Anyone who drives our Tampa area roads knows how chipped windshields are often just part of living here. Whether we are contending with the never-ending road construction or are just unfortunate enough to get behind a large truck hauling rocks and gravel, our car windshields often take a beating here in Florida. But what are the laws concerning driving with a chipped windshield? And if we only have a small chip, is it necessary to get the windshield replaced?
Is It Legal to Drive With a Damaged Windshield in Florida?
Windshield laws vary dramatically from state to state.
In Florida, it is unlawful to drive with any visual obstruction on your windshield. A driver cannot have any signs or any other non-transparent material affixed to the front windshield of the car or any material that obstructs the driver’s view from the rear view mirror or side mirrors or windows.
This is when a damaged windshield becomes relevant. Any cracks or chips that effectively interfere with your view of the road as a driver can be illegal. Considering there are no clear regulations concerning a damaged windshield in Florida, it is generally up to an officer’s discretion whether you will receive a citation or not. Unless the damage is very small or obscure, you may receive a citation and have to repair or replace your windshield on top of paying the fine for the ticket.
Repair or Replace?
Whether you have your windshield repaired or replaced will usually depend on the amount of damage there is.
A general rule of thumb is if a crack is less than three inches or if the chip is smaller than a quarter, the windshield should be repairable. But depending on the location of the crack or chip, this may be impossible. Some auto glass shops may not repair the windshield if the damage is in the driver’s direct line of sight.
Fortunately, Florida law requires car insurance companies to cover the cost of repair or replacement of a windshield for policyholders with comprehensive auto coverage without even charging a deductible.
How Can a Cracked or Chipped Windshield Be Dangerous?
Vision impairment is only one of the dangers of a damaged windshield in Tampa. A windshield that has sustained damage can be dangerous from another safety standpoint.
A vehicle’s windshield system has been designed to withstand impact. In a rollover accident, your windshield is developed to withstand one and a half times the weight of the car to keep the roof from caving in more than five inches. In a front-end collision, the windshield system is designed to keep at least 50 percent of the glass sealed to keep occupants from being ejected from the car. In the event of an accident, the strength of the windshield system can potentially be compromised with as little as a crack or chip.
Consequently, the state of Florida has implemented insurance laws enabling car owners with comprehensive coverage to get their windshield fixed without even paying the insurance deductible. The state hopes this will encourage Tampa drivers to repair or replace their windshields sooner rather than later, thereby potentially avoiding a serious accident.
Don’t Wait to Fix Your Windshield
The bottom line is that any damage to your windshield, whether large or small, should be fixed as soon as possible. A small crack or even a chip can spread quickly and can significantly reduce the integrity of the vehicle’s windshield sealant system. In a serious accident, this can be deadly to you as a driver and your occupants. Fortunately, if you have comprehensive insurance coverage in Tampa, replacing your windshield can be done at absolutely no cost to you.
A cracked windshield can cost more than a repair. It can cost you your (or someone else’s) life. If you have been injured in a car accident, the Tampa personal injury attorneys at Ged Lawyers, LLP may be able to help. Call us at 888-4GEDLAW (toll free), (941) 225-2744 or contact us via our website to schedule a no-cost consultation to discuss your case.