Probe: May 24, 2002

May 24, 2002

QUESTION: Would you tell your readers with tickets for tinted windows not to pay them? Instead they should check out the county parking lot across the street. They'll find the majority of the cars with tinted windows.

They should note also the police parking lot behind the El Centro police station. They'll find the majority of personal cars driven by police officers have tinted windows. They should take photos of the cars and pictures of their own cars.

Then they should show the pictures to the judge and ask him to dismiss the tickets. Tinted windows protect the drivers and passengers from skin cancer. They are necessary in Imperial County. That's why a majority of law enforcement officers have their personal vehicles tinted. — Tinted Grandma, El Centro

By the time you read this, you may have had your day in court. Let us know how you made out. We expect the judge didn't buy your argument.


Judges have to rule on the law and California law says you can't tint front windows of vehicles. If you don't like the law, change it, don't break it.

El Centro Police Chief Ray Loera checked the police parking lot and reported none of the cars parked out back had tinted windows. Capt. Eddie Madueno checked again later and again found no illegally tinted windows.

He said, "If I found a cop driving a car with tinted windows, I would order him to remove the tint."

If the officer refused, Madueno said, the cop's job could be in jeopardy for insubordination.

He said you may think you saw illegally tinted windows. If the back windows are tinted, the interior of the car would be darker and it might appear that all the windows are tinted.

Since you raise the specter of skin cancer, there is an option for fair-skinned people at risk from the sun. If your doctor will give you a prescription for tinted windows, you may legally tint all your windows. Carry the prescription in your wallet and show it to the cop if you get stopped, Madueno said.

QUESTION: I was recently pulled over by a police officer in El Centro because he claimed I had illegally modified my car's muffler. The only thing I did was change the muffler on my Toyota to one I bought from Autozone. Is the cop right? I have never heard this was illegal. Now I have to go to court. Is there any way out of this? — Ticketed, El Centro

We don't think so. The cop based his ticket on state law that says you can't modify a muffler.

Damien Iniguez at Autozone insists the muffler is legal if you don't bypass the catalytic converter to produce more power and noise. Your new muffler produces a little more noise and up to 15 percent more power, he said.

Bypassing the converter would be wrong because it would be polluting, Iniguez said.

El Centro police Capt. Eddie Madueno agreed the power- and noise-boosting mufflers are being sold all over the county.

"Just because you can buy the muffler legally doesn't mean the muffler is legal to use on your car when it's driven on public roads," he said.

QUESTION: Is there an unwritten law saying medical professionals have the right to keep patients waiting from 30 minutes to hours when they have scheduled appointments? If I treated my customers like that, I wouldn't have customers. — Tired of Waiting, Brawley

You would if your customers believed their lives depended on your particular skill or expertise.

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