Last night we told you about the regulations on vehicle tint that go into effect on June first. The new regs are trying to make it so that criminals in particular can't conceal themselves or their arms inside dark vehicles.
A lot of technical lingo was used in the release sent out yesterday - well tonight we'll try and break it down for you…
To understand the tint issue, first you'll have to understand what VLT is. It means visible light transmission - how much light the tint lets through.
Nigel Espat, Belize Auto Zone
"VLT- Visible Light Transmittance - it allows from the different rates - 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% - what it does is that's the amount of ultraviolet rays that it allows to penetrate through the vehicle. So it's not only a factor of being concealed in your vehicle, but it's also protection from the heat."
On this vehicle it's 5% - the most popular in Belize, and on this one, it's 20% - the lightest tint sold here at Auto zone where they've been tinting vehicles for 12 years.
"Of course the most popular is the 5% which is the darker tint, but if it's-"
"This vehicle behind us is 5%?"
"This vehicle is 5 percent, yes; this is the darker tint."
The new regulations call for 50% on windshields and front windows. One problem though, owner Nigel Espat says he's never heard of it:
"I've never seen a 50% VLT tint available on the market."
"You're saying that you've been doing this for over 10 years now, and you've never encountered 50% VLT?"
"No, we've been in the business for about 12 years going on 13 years, and I've never encountered a 50%. It's not what only is available in Belize because I've attended the SEMA Auto-Show that takes place in Las Vegas every year, where all the tint manufacturers, globally, congregates. And I've never seen 50% VLT available."
But we found it on the internet - and Espat says it probably does exist, but he wonders is it climate appropriate?
"We live in a tropical climate where, ultimately, you are bound to tint your vehicle. It's just too hot to leave your vehicle out in a parking lot or on the side of the street for even 15 minutes, especially given the months that we're in right now. It gets extremely hot. The tint helps to protect you from that; by requiring 50% on the front, and then it's almost having nothing at all. It's almost saying don't tint the front."
Also, the parameters for the tint on the front will have to change - only four inches will be allowed, this van is about ten, this car is 8
"Because we are a tropical climate, we tend to have more sun than - say the United States or Canada or our northern neighbors. So we would tint may be say - about 8 inches will suffice to keep the sun out of your face while you're driving on the highway or the road. 4 inches is rather small."
He Also notes that reflective tint will be permitted - but at any percentage, he warns doesn't allow you to see inside.
"You can go about getting a 20% reflective tint, and it does the same thing. I believe the aside is to allow visibility into the vehicle, but a reflective tint acts as a mirror. So even though you might find a 20% reflective tint, what it does is it keeps visible out of the vehicle because it acts as a mirror."
Espat says he supports the regulations - but it needs fine tuning
"They might want to go back to it and just tinker with it a little bit more, because in my view and the experience that we have, trying to achieve what the ministry is trying to achieve - a 20% tint - it would suffice perfectly. Full vehicle, 20% tint, the visibility is very clear inside; the occupants get at least a small amount of protection from the ultraviolet rays, and the police are happy. It makes it clearer."
"Okay now, but you aren't opposed to these regulations at all, because tint is tint; you don't really care about the grade. You will still make your sale."
"Well tint is tint, so at the end of the day, it costs the same to any customer that comes into the auto zone to tint with 5% - 20% - the tint is the same."