California Laws on a Cracked Windshield

By Leslie Bloom - Updated July 24, 2018

The sound of a rock hitting your windshield while you’re driving is always frustrating, especially when it results in a big crack. While you can get away with continuing to drive with a small nick, driving with a larger crack may be illegal in California.

Is it Illegal to Drive With a Cracked Windshield?

Under California Vehicle Code 26710, it is illegal to drive a car if the crack in your windshield prevents you from clearly seeing the road. The California windshield law applies to both the front and rear windshields. If you have a small crack or nick in your windshield and you have a clear line of vision in the affected windshield, you are not in violation of 26710 VC.

Elements of California Vehicle Code 26710

California windshield law requires all vehicles driving on the road, including buses and trucks, to have a functioning windshield. The only exception to this is motorcycles and certain vehicles that didn’t require a windshield when they were sold or registered. These are most often older, collectible cars.

According to 26710 VC, if you have a cracked or broken windshield and are pulled over by a police or highway patrol officer, you must fix the windshield within 48 hours. If you fail to do so, under California windshield law, you may be arrested and have to appear in court to show that the broken windshield was sufficiently repaired or replaced.

Repairing a Cracked Windshield

A cracked or broken windshield not only makes it harder for you to see out the window, it can cause more harm to you in the event of a car accident. A weakened windshield cannot provide the same level of safety that an intact windshield can. If you have only a small nick or scratch, you can often get it fixed for less than $100. You may even be able to make the repair yourself if it’s small enough. The key is to fix the small crack before it turns into a larger problem that requires the windshield to be replaced.

If you have a large crack or your windshield has shattered, you must get it replaced as soon as possible, not only to avoid violating California Vehicle Code 26710, but to ensure the safety of you and your passengers. The average cost of replacing a windshield is about $350. Depending on how your windshield was broken, you may be able to get some or all of the cost of repair or replacement covered by your insurance.

About the Author

Leslie Bloom earned a J.D. from U.C. Davis’ King Hall, with a focus on public interest law. She is a licensed attorney who has done advocacy work for children and women. She holds a B.S. in print journalism, and has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of print and online publications, including the Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy.

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