Ravens running back Ray Rice probably didn't have much free time this week to begin with, as the Ravens play the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday. But he had to spend part of Tuesday explaining a recent tweet anyway.
Rice posted on Twitter Monday night that he was pulled over by a Baltimore County police officer because of the dark windows in his white Range Rover. Maryland State law prohibits car windows from being tinted at more than 35 percent, a limitation enacted primarily to ensure police officers can see inside vehicles as a safety measure.
Rice said the officer let him off with a warning, but his initial tweet — which has since been deleted — seemed to imply he got off easy after giving the officer an autograph for his son.
The tweet read: "Just got pulled over for my tints smh [shaking my head] But gave the officer a autograph for his son and he let me go."
Rice said he worded it poorly on Twitter.
"I don't want to make it seem like I was getting any [special] treatment by an officer," Rice said Tuesday in the Ravens locker room. "He was doing his job."
Rice was stopped in a parking lot on his way to buy the new "Call of Duty: Black Ops" video game. Rice said he wasn't aware of the state law, and that he didn't offer his autograph to the officer until after he'd been given a warning.
"I didn't realize they were illegal until they pulled me over," Rice said. "He gave me a warning to get it fixed. I didn't have anything outstanding or nothing wrong with my plates. As I'm walking to the store, the cop said his son is a big fan. I took it upon myself to offer him an autograph to his son. That was after the warning. It was bad decision by me wording it on Twitter."
Baltimore County Police Lt. Robert McCullough, the department's chief spokesman, confirmed on Tuesday that a county officer had made the stop but he refused to comment further. He said investigators had not yet talked to the officer and that more information would not be released until at least Wednesday.
"We're still investigating this on our end," McCullough said. "We're still looking into it. … It's a personnel matter and we're looking into it."
So did the officer let Rice off with a warning because he plays for the Ravens? Not necessarily.
Maryland State Police spokesman Gregory M. Shipley said troopers typically give out warning and repair orders for the first offense, meaning that the owner is given some time to get the tint removed and then re-inspected.
The window tint law means that "the total amount of light being transmitted through the glass of a motor vehicle cannot be less than 35 percent," according to a summary of the law from the Berwyn Heights Police Department. The driver, not the shop that installed the tint, is responsible for the fine.
Jason Gray, the owner of D&L Window Tint Co, with locations in White Marsh and Parkville, said he keeps a book of state regulations regarding window tints and advises all clients that they cannot exceed 35 percent tint on windows.
He said that many people, including police, are confused by the law, and that he sometimes will take a customer's vehicle to a police precinct to ensure that it passes inspection. A 35 percent tint allows someone from the outside to see into the car, but reduces glare.
Gray said he's seeing older customers come in requesting window tints to cut down on heat during the summer months. Most tints, he said, are done on trucks and sport utility vehicles. He said he just completed tinting a vehicle for police in the Regional Auto Theft Task Force and that he previously tinted the windows on Ray Lewis' old Hummer.
Tinting the windows on a typical SUV, Gray said, costs about $240. It's about the same price to remove tint from a window.
Rice suggested he learned at least one lesson from the whole affair.
"I definitely won't make that decision (to put) it on Twitter again," he said.