New York cracked windshield laws

New York Cracked Windshield Laws

Different states have different laws regarding cracked windshields. A damaged windshield on your car can lead to all kinds of hazardous situations, and New York traffic laws do not permit driving with a damaged windshield which may impair visibility. Further clarification of the law is available below!

Is driving with a cracked windshield legal in New York?

The following excerpt is from New York Vehicle & Traffic (VAT) laws:

22. It shall be unlawful to operate a motor vehicle upon the public highways of this state which is equipped with any glass which is so broken, fractured or discolored as to distort visibility.

Law source: New York Laws, VAT – Vehicle & Traffic, Title 3: Equipment, Article 9: Equipment of Motor Vehicles, Section 375 – Equipment.

Unfortunately New York cracked windshield law is not very detailed and does not specifically regulate what constitutes “distorted visibility”.

Broad language essentially means it’s up to each police officer’s discretion whether you’ll be issued a citation or not. Sadly in most cases, you’ll have to pay a fine and replace or repair your windshield or other cracked windows.

Vehicle inspection:

According to the Commissioner’s Regulations (source) covering vehicle inspections, your car will not pass inspection if:

  • Any window is broken or has exposed sharp or jagged edges.
  • Your windshield has a crack more than eleven inches long, with any part of the crack in the windshield wiper path.
  • Window has a “star” crack which is more than three inches in diameter.

Inspection guidelines above are only guidelines. While your car may pass inspection, police can still ticket you in case they determine your vision of the road is impaired.


Windshield repair or replace?

Should you repair or replace your windshield? Depending on the extent of the damage on your car’s windshield you may be able to repair it, or otherwise completely replace it.

If the crack on your windshield is less than 3″ in length, or if you have a small chip which is smaller than the size of a quarter you should be able to repair your windshield, which will cost less than replacing it. In fact, your insurance company may even cover your repair bill if you have road hazard coverage, though you should consult with them first to see if they do.

If your windshield is cracked directly in front of the driver’s line of sight some shops may decline repairing it, since even then it can obstruct your vision and cause safety concerns. If your windshield is too damaged you may have to replace it completely, which can cost a few hundred dollars.

Cracked windshield safety concerns

Do note that impaired vision is not the only reason why you should repair or replace your broken or damaged car windshield. An undamaged windshield is stronger and in case of accidents can prevent further injuries.

In a rollover wreck, the strength of the windshield/sealant system is designed to keep the roof from crushing more than 5 inches when there is a force of approx 1-1/2 times the weight of the vehicle on the roof. In a front end collision at approximately 30mph, the windshield/sealant system is designed to keep at least 50% of the glass sealed to the car which could keep occupants from being ejected.

While you can drive with a cracked windshield and may avoid a ticket from police, it’s certainly not advisable as having a cracked windshield can be dangerous and potentially against the law.

This article about New York Cracked Windshield Laws was last updated in 2019. If any of our information is incomplete or outdated please let us know. Thank you!