ST. PETERSBURG, Florida— A close call for law enforcement officers Wednesday night in Lakeland highlights the dangers police and sheriff’s deputies face when dealing with dark window tint.
“The windows were blacked out. We couldn’t see into the vehicle at all,” said Polk Sheriff Grady Judd at a news conference Wednesday night. “The deputies immediately surround the vehicle and say ‘roll down the windows, roll down the windows.’
We are met with gunfire. I don’t know how he missed them.”
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At Window Kote in St. Petersburg, owner Cheryl Hoffman says she gets requests every day for the darkest tint available.
“Most of the time it’s the limo tint which is pitch black,” said Hoffman who says her business refuses to tint vehicles with illegal tint. “It’s not allowing any light in, nor can you see out. And it is a very, very dangerous tint.”
Florida law requires front side windows in normal cars allow through 28 percent visible light. It’s enough to keep vehicles cooler in the Florida sun while also keeping law enforcement safe.
“If we were a police officer we could see into the car. You can clearly see what any passenger would be doing and what the driver would be doing,” said Hoffman pointing at a vehicle with legal tint.
Now imagine the same scenario after dark -- only this time, with illegal tint.
“For an officer to put their life on the line and not know if the person behind the wheel has a gun pointed at them or what the consequences could be is terrifying,” said Hoffman. “It puts an officer on the edge. This is exactly why we are so against illegal tint.”
Breaking the law could lead to a $116 fine per infraction. And while Window Kote says it loses business for not breaking the law, they say it beats the alternative of an officer ending up dead.
“That’s just something we could never live with.”