Reported By: Rob Hughes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
El Centro, CA/Yuma, AZ- January 4- New details on a fatal car wreck involving an on-duty Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent. Police say the ICE government vehicle had illegal window tinting.
Police say the 2009 Ford Fusion driven by a federal agent had window tinting on the front driver and passenger sides, a violation of California law. Police have not confirmed the tint was a factor in the crash, but say it does play a role in many car accidents.
Police say 35 year old ICE agent Cole Dotson ran a stop sign and plowed into a minivan last week at the intersection of Heber and Bowker Road in Heber, killing 3 people. According to California Highway Patrol statistics, 8 people have been killed at this intersection in the last 10 years, including 3 in 2009. The intersection does not have any lights. El Centro CHP says no one is above the law when it comes to window tinting.
"Our officers, when we're out on patrol, if they come across a vehicle that has tinted windows, whether it's a government vehicle or a private citizen's vehicle, it's up to the officer to take proper enforcement," said Officer Pablo Torrez.
Torrez says California drivers can face over a $470 dollar fine if they refuse to correct their window tint after being warned. According to Arizona law, tinting on driver and passenger side windows is permitted, but must allow 30-36% transmittable light.
"The officer can cite them and give them a citation for anything below that, anything darker than 33%; a lot of times if it's not too much darker, they'll give them what's called a repair order; that they need to fix it, or if it's real dark, they could get a ticket for it," said Sergeant Michael McClaren with the Yuma Department of Public Safety.
Police say drivers are responsible for removing the illegal tint, or the government agency that issued the vehicle. McClaren says window tinting laws are for everyone's safety.
"It makes it very hard to see, especially at nighttime; it's kinda like wearing dark sunglasses at night, it's hard to see any objects or any movement; if you're driving a car at night, it would make it hard to see outside the driver or passenger side windows, see pedestrians, see a small child, see other vehicles," said McClaren.
Police say ICE agent Cole Dotson could face criminal charges pending the results of the investigation.