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Broken windshield of a car

Cracks or chips in a windshield are not uncommon so it can seem trivial when it happens. You should know that it’s actually not only a safety concern but also a legal issue if you are driving with a cracked or chipped windshield. The crack’s severity and location play a key role in determining the legality. The rules and regulations governing windshields vary from state to state.

Virginia has specific laws that must be adhered to in order to be in accordance. In Virginia, you must have a windshield if your vehicle was manufactured after July 1, 1970. In addition, if your vehicle was built after January 1, 1936, your windshield must be made of safety glass. Safety glass significantly reduces the risk that passengers will be ejected in the case of an accident. In turn, this reduces the likelihood that a vehicle accident-related death will occur.

Your windshield should always remain intact and free from any visible damage. You should never settle for driving with a cracked windshield — but if you’re temporarily forced into this situation, here’s what you should know.

Cracks, Chips and Defects

  • Scratches larger than 6 inches by a quarter inch within the area cleared by the wipers are not permitted.
  • Star cracks, chips and pits larger than 1-1/2 inches in diameter are not permitted anywhere on the windshield above the bottom three inches of the glass.
  • Multiple cracks from the same area with any one being larger than 1-1/2 inches long are not permitted.
  • Multiple cracks starting from a star crack that are above the bottom three inches of the windshield are not permitted.

A vehicle in Virginia must pass an annual safety inspection and the state police require technicians to look for cracked, scratched or broken glass.

If there is a pit, chip, or star crack larger than 1-inch in diameter at any location in the windshield above the 3-inch line at the bottom; or if there is any crack that weakens the windshield so that one piece may be moved in relation to the other it is in violation.

So yes, a cracked windshield can be extremely unsafe and illegal. The degree of danger posed by your cracked windshield can vary, depending on specific factors and you should always plan to replace a chipped or cracked windshield as soon as you can. If the damage occurs and you're not due for your vehicle's annual inspection you should still have a trained technician assess any damage done to your windshield, no matter the shape, size or length of the chip or crack. It's better to be safe than sorry. 

At Smiley’s Glass we take your safety seriously. We know the importance of proper installation and convenience. We offer flexible hours and mobile service so your vehicle glass repairs are stress-free and affordable. Visit us online or call (804) 320-7172.

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7100 Forest Hill Ave
Richmond, VA 23225


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