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Hawaii County Council reconsiders letting police tow vehicles over tinted windows

Hawaii County Council members are reconsidering a bill that would give police the power to tow vehicles with overly tinted windows, officials said.

Some council members have had second thoughts about the bill approved 8-1 in a first reading last month, West Hawaii Today reported Tuesday.

The proposal adds a towing option when police believe windows are tinted darker than allowed by law.

The bill is sponsored by Councilwoman Sue Lee Loy.

Federal and state laws mandate windshields and windows required for driver visibility allow in more than 70% light. Rear and rear side windows in Hawaii can be darker, allowing in more than 35% light. Fines for violations range from $250 to $500

Darkly tinted windows create hazards for officers, as well as for pedestrians and bicyclists who cannot make eye contact with drivers while crossing streets, Lee Loy said.

“One of the letters of support call out a specific event in which we lost an officer. So if there’s any compassion on this dais right now, I’d like to hear it. Because I am trying to keep more than our officers safe,” she said.

Some council members who initially supported the bill said they have heard from constituents worried about the cost of retrieving towed vehicles and police overreach.

“I have serious reservations about providing that power,” Councilwoman Rebecca Villegas said. “I think this has the potential to cause more conflict.”

Councilman Matt Kanealii-Kleinfelder also questioned leaving towing to police discretion.

“It does open a door to allow for officers to make decisions based on character of the driver,” Kanealii-Kleinfelder said.

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