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Is it illegal to drive with a cracked windshield?

State laws differ, but most states require that a windshield be free of any cracks or issues with the safety glass that would cause your vision as the driver to be impaired. In short, if the crack diminishes your vision, it's likely illegal. Some state laws specify which windshield cracks are a violation by providing location and size criteria. For instance, in Massachusetts, no cracks or damage can be in the area that the windshield wipers cover when in use, and chips can't be larger than the size of a quarter. Other state windshield laws say the damage can't obstruct your vision while driving and leave it at that.

    To find out your state's specific laws regarding windshields and cracks or impairment of vision contact your state's Department of Motor Vehicles.

    Driving with a cracked windshield is dangerous

    Depending on the size and location of the crack, you certainly may be able to drive your car while having a clear vision of the road. But, it's not advisable. Having a damaged windshield is a serious safety hazard. Over time even minor damage will get worse. And, cracks in windshields can compromise a vehicle's structural stability. 

    The glass supports the chassis and helps prevent the roof from being crushed in a rollover or other type of collision, according to the National Automotive Parts Association.

    Cracked windshield insurance

    You can file a claim to repair or replace your windshield if you have comprehensive insurance. You have to pay the deductible when filing a comprehensive claim. A deductible is the amount you pay yourself before your insurance kicks in. That means in some cases it might not make sense to file a claim when having a cracked windshield repaired or replaced. If your deductible is close to or under the cost of the replacement, you won't be able to file a claim. For example, if the cost to replace your windshield is $400 and your deductible is $500, you wouldn't receive any money from your insurance company.

    Some insurance companies offer separate windshield plans that have their own lower deductible for glass repair or replacement. This makes financial sense because your deductible won't be higher than the repair bill, so there's an incentive to have it fixed as you won't have to foot the bill. Additionally, some insurance companies will waive the deductible entirely for windshield replacement, but not for repair, so ask about the details of glass coverage when you shop for a policy.

    In some states, there are special laws that apply to glass repair and replacement. In Florida, Kentucky, and South Carolina, your deductible is waived for windshield replacement, so these states are sometimes called "zero-deductible" or free windshield replacement states. Under Massachusetts law, car insurance companies are required to offer windshield replacement coverage as part of their policies, with either a zero deductible or a $100 deductible option. Read more about auto insurance in the commonwealth at our guide to Massachusetts car insurance.

    Florida windshield replacement law

    Drivers in Florida who have comprehensive insurance do not have to pay a deductible to have their windshield replaced, per Florida Statute 627.7288. Insurance companies do not have to use OEM parts, but replacement parts must be “of same fit, quality and performance.” For more information on auto insurance in the Sunshine state, read our guide to Florida car insurance.

    Free windshield replacement in SC

    In South Carolina there is no deductible for windshield replacement, if you have comprehensive insurance, according to the South Carolina Department of Insurance FAQ.

    What is the California windshield law?

    There are no specific laws or guidelines in California for glass or windshield repairs. Your insurance company may waive the deductible for a windshield replacement claim on your comprehensive insurance, but it is not mandated under any laws. Our guide to California car insurance provides more details on coverages and insurance laws.

    Can you take your driver test with a cracked windshield?

    You might be able to, but is that really the chance you want to take when going for your license? If the crack is small and not in your field of vision, it's possible you would be allowed to take your test. But it's more likely you'll be sent home to have it fixed. If you don't have windshield insurance or don't have the money to pay the deductible, you may be able to repair it yourself. Popular Mechanic's guide on repairing windshields is a great resource.