New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday urged the governor to sign a bill that would require inspection stations to fail a vehicle with illegal window tinting.
Soon after de Blasio’s news conference to push the legislation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said he would sign the bill — and that he had intended to do so even before de Blasio convened the event.
De Blasio and other backers of the bill say that deputizing private inspection stations — by requiring each to purchase a tint-detecting light meter — would reduce tinting that the backers say endangers police officers during vehicle stops.
Opponents say that the requirement is unrelated to the reason for inspections — making sure a vehicle is mechanically safe for the roads — and that the bill would impose new costs on the state’s 9,000 inspection stations.
While it is illegal to sell, offer to sell, install or operate a vehicle with darkened glass that blocks more than 30 percent of light on the windshield or front windows, the state does not routinely check vehicles to make sure the windows comply with the tinting law.
“This is about protecting our police officers,” said de Blasio, who held a news conference outside police headquarters Tuesday to push for the law. “We also have to have the back of our NYPD officers when it comes to our state laws.”
Also at the news conference was NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, who said the NYPD issues about 65,000 tickets for illegal tinting every year, and makes about 1 million vehicle stops.
Joining them was Sgt. Herman Yan, who as a young officer in 2007 was shot and his partner, Russel Timoshenko, killed during a traffic stop in Brooklyn in which the windows of the vehicle the two had stopped were too dark to fully see through.
Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said in a statement: “We always intended to sign this legislation and would have been glad to tell the city if they’d just asked us — no need to grandstand.”
Said de Blasio spokesman Austin Finan: “Nearly five years and one veto later, we’re glad the governor is ready to protect our police by taking illegal vehicles off the street.”
In vetoing a similar bill in 2012, Cuomo said the legislation would burden inspection stations with what “would essentially be an unfunded mandate on small business owners” — the cost of the meter and the extra inspection time — without increasing the fee the stations receive.
A 2012 memo from the state Department of Motor Vehicles called the bill’s benefits “negligible,” since the purpose of the inspection is to make sure that the vehicle can be safely operated in public — with adequate brakes, steering systems, tire treads — and the level of tinting is unrelated to those factors.
The memo says the light meters, used to determine percentage of window tinting, cost up to $370 but, at de Blasio’s news conference, bill backer Assemb. Michael DenDekker (D-Queens) said the cost is now about $100.