Is It Illegal to Drive With a Cracked Windshield?
If you’ve ever had a rock hit your windshield while driving, you know the terror it can inflict. Even the smallest stone can sound like a meteor when it makes contact with your car. And depending on the size of the rock and the speed at which it’s traveling, it can leave a sizeable crack in your windshield.
But is a crack in your windshield OK to drive with, or do you need to fix it ASAP in order to continue to drive legally?
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It depends on where you live
As with most traffic laws, the answer depends on which state you live in. Generally, if the crack obscures your vision it should be fixed in order to continue driving safely and legally. If you’re stopped while driving with a cracked windshield, the police officer may ticket you for an excessive crack on your windshield. But a smaller crack that doesn’t impede your vision is likely fine.
A rock hitting your windshield will not shatter the glass, since all cars are required by law to have laminated safety glass for their windows. When struck, this type of glass cracks in a similar pattern to a spider web. While the crack might not be in your direct line of sight when driving, it can weaken your car’s windshield, especially if it spreads to the edge of the windshield. That means the crack could grow over time if not treated, making repair impossible and resulting in a total replacement of your windshield.
Repair or replace?
Generally speaking, most windshield cracks can be repaired by a professional. But if your crack is on the inside of the windshield, or if it measures more than 2.4 inches in length, you’ll likely need to replace the entire windshield. Some states will waive your deductible to replace your windshield when needed as an incentive; check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to be sure.
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Catherine Hiles is a native Brit living and working in Dayton, Ohio. Cat has written about a variety of subjects, including finance, cars, and parenting. She is a frequent contributor to Dayton Mom Collective, The Penny Hoarder, and her own personal blog.
Cat lives with her husband, Ben; and their two kids, Rose and Liam. She counts running, reading, and cooking among her hobbies. See more articles by Cat.