Granting Anonymity to State Lawmakers—Behind Tinted Windows

Under current law, car windows must let in at least 70 percent of light.

Under current law, car windows must let in at least 70 percent of light. Shutterstock


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State law in Rhode island requires tinted car windows to let in a certain amount of light. One lawmaker wants to exempt General Assembly members from the rule, saying it's necessary to ensure safety.

Lawmakers, state judges, police officers and firefighters would be exempt from Rhode Island’s restrictions on tinted auto windows under a bill introduced last week in the state’s legislature, a move the sponsor said was necessary to protect the safety of public officials.

“We have a lot of disgruntled individuals,” state Rep. Anastasia P. Williams, a Democrat from Providence, told the Boston Globe. “In the court system, law enforcement, and the General Assembly, we tend to get a bum rap, and we can face retaliation when we least expect it. When folks are on personal time, we are targeted.”

Under current state law, most motor vehicles must have windows that let in 70% of light. Exemptions are granted for cars that are owned or leased by law enforcement agencies, vehicles that provide “executive security” and those that are owned or driven by people with eye conditions that require lower levels of light. 

Williams’ bill, introduced to the House on Wednesday, would create an additional exemption for cars that are privately owned by a “municipal or state police officer, firefighter, judge of a state court, or any elected member of the Rhode Island general assembly.”

Those officials, particularly lawmakers, can be easily identifiable due to license plates that broadcast their position, Williams said, though the plates are not mandatory and not every member of the General Assembly opts to use them.

Williams said there was no specific incident that prompted the legislation. She has never been harassed while in her car, though she told the Globe that pro-life protesters confronted her about an abortion bill during last year’s legislative session and that people upset about other pieces of legislation have approached her on the walk from the state house to her car.

The bill, sponsored by five Democrats, has no Republican support and no Senate counterpart. It is currently awaiting a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. If passed, it would take effect immediately.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a Staff Correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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