Big Auto-logo

Is It Illegal To Drive With a Cracked Windshield?

Is It Illegal To Drive With a Cracked Windshield?

The windshield provides 45% of a vehicle’s cabin structural integrity in a front-end collision or 60% in a rollover accident. Your vehicle’s windshield provides structural integrity and safety for you and your family. 

It is important to understand windshield laws in your state and the legal implications if you are pulled over for a cracked windshield. There are preventative measures you can take to help prevent windshield cracks. However, repair and replacement options are available if you get a chip or crack. 

Understanding Windshield Laws

There are federal and state laws regarding driving with a cracked windshield. Windshield crack laws vary by state, so you must check your state’s laws. These laws can even vary depending on the specific location or city in which you live.

Federal Windshield Laws

The Department of Transportation set the minimum requirements for cracked windshields that every state must follow. However, each state can add to the federal minimum.

Federal law states that chips and cracks must not obstruct your view. Your view is considered anywhere above the steering wheel, two inches from the top of the windshield, or one inch from the side of the windshield. 

According to federal law, chips or cracks are allowed if they are less than ¾ inches in diameter, more than 3 inches away from each other, and not obstructing your view.

State Windshield Laws

Every state has its laws regarding cracked windshields. You can check the laws through the DMV, law enforcement, and the Department of Transportation if you need clarification on the laws in your state.

States use three categories to enforce windshield laws, including cracks, chips, and obstructions. A couple of examples of state windshield laws include:

Safety Concerns

Cracked windshields pose many safety concerns. As stated above, your windshield provides structural integrity for your vehicle in the event of a front-end collision or rollover accident.

Another safety concern with cracked windshields is that your airbags may not work correctly. Windshields work as a backstop for airbags, but if your windshield is cracked, it may give way when the airbag hits it.

If a crack in your windshield obstructs your vision, it could cause car accidents and harm you or others. If you have a crack in your windshield and live in a location with extreme weather conditions, the windshield could shatter unexpectedly. Other reasons for your cracked windshield shattering unexpectedly include strong impacts or sudden jolts.

Legal Implications

Driving with a cracked windshield can have legal implications in different states. Crack windshield tickets are usually considered non-moving violations. However, either way, you may be pulled over or have to manage legal consequences for driving with a cracked windshield.


If you drive with a cracked windshield and are pulled over in some states, you may get a ticket with a fine of up to $120. However, the fine could be higher or lower, depending on your state. You may also be required to pay for a replacement windshield before you are allowed to drive the vehicle again.

However, fines may be avoided if you have proof that your windshield was replaced after you get a ticket.

License Suspension

Depending on your state, they may suspend your license if you receive multiple tickets for driving with a cracked windshield. A license suspension is costly because of court costs and other fines associated with the suspension.

Repair or Replacement Factors

There are factors to consider when a cracked windshield needs replacing or repair. 

  1. Edge or corner cracks can weaken the integrity of glass.
  2. Spiderweb cracks can lead to shattering while driving or being involved in an accident.
  3. Cracks that have gone through all the layers of glass are high risk.
  4. Discoloration around that crack signals that moisture or debris has infiltrated the layers of glass.

If you notice these factors, immediately bring your vehicle to an auto glass repair shop. Your safety is at risk, and the legality of the windshield is diminishing.

Preventing Cracks in Your Windshield

Several tips exist to help you prevent a cracked windshield.

Park Smart

Try to find covered parking. If you have access to a garage or carport where you live, use that wherever possible; when you are out in public, try to find a parking garage. If covered parking is not an option, use a windshield sun shade to help prevent UV rays from damaging your windshield due to heat buildup in your vehicle.

Prompt Repairs

Get any chips or cracks repaired quickly. This can prevent a larger repair or even having to replace the windshield in the future.

Safe Following Distance

Leaving a three- to five-second gap between you and the vehicle in front of you will give you ample time to respond to objects heading your direction. If you are directly behind a vehicle that is carrying gravel or another fine material that may damage your windshield, you should follow even further behind.

Road Choice

Avoid gravel roads as much as possible to reduce the risk of rocks hitting your windshield. If you have to take a gravel road, drive slowly. You may also want to try to avoid driving on gravel driveways if possible.

Engage in Defensive Driving

Good driving habits help prevent windshield damage. Stay a safe distance from other drivers and avoid aggressive actions and sudden stops. When possible, try to plan your route to avoid roads where you’ve seen aggressive driving behavior in the past.

Consider Comprehensive Insurance

Comprehensive insurance through your car insurance company can help with windshield repair and replacement costs. If you aren’t sure whether your current insurance policy will help you cover a windshield repair or replacement, reach out to your insurance agency or use their website to check your policy online. Often, this coverage won’t add much to your monthly premium but will save you a lot of money if you need to use it.

Regular Inspection

Inspect your windshield for chips and cracks regularly. Also, check that your windshield wipers are working correctly to prevent scratches, which can reduce the integrity of those areas. This can be a great addition to regular vehicle checks to ensure that your lights are functioning properly and your fluids are at appropriate levels.

Follow the Rules of the Road and Keep Yourself and Your Family Safe

The state you live in determines the laws you must follow if you are driving with a cracked windshield. The legal implications can be costly. Do what you can to prevent chips and cracks in your windshield to keep you and other drivers safe. If you discover a chip or crack in your windshield, address it as promptly as possible and avoid driving that vehicle in the meantime if you can.

If you have any questions or concerns about driving with a cracked windshield, contact Big Auto Accident Attorneys today. We can help you determine your best course of action.