Driving With Snow and Ice on Your Car Is Illegal, Could Cost You

Driving in the winter comes with many irritating rituals you must do to drive safely. One of the worst is clearing your car of snow and ice before driving. This can take forever and is easily rushed. Well, it turns out we shouldn’t rush ice removal at all. Not only do ice and snow impair your vision, but it is also dangerous to other drivers. To that end, it’s illegal in many states and can leave you with a monster fine. Winter driving tip: don’t drive with snow and ice on your car. It’s illegal. 

The wind blows snow, decreasing visibility | Group/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty

Is driving with snow and ice on your car illegal? 

According to Car and Driver, there are at least two states that have laws named after people who were killed by ice falling off of someone else’s car. In fact, Car and Driver notes the New Hampshire driver who was charged with vehicular assault, reckless conduct, and negligent driving after a sheet of ice flew off of a box truck and shattered another driver’s windshield, injuring the driver. 

A Twitter post by Washington state police tells the tale of another driver this week who landed a $553 fine for driving with snow on the windshield. The driver who got the fine was charged with negligent winter driving because their windshield was nearly completely covered in snow. While the photo makes it hard to believe anyone would drive down their driveway, much less down the road with such poor visibility, the Twitter post says the driver was five miles from home.

Is there special winter driving tips? 

Yes. New Hampshire is one of the strictest states with winter driving laws. Jessica’s law – a law enacted after Jessica Smith was killed when falling ice caused a multiple-car pile-up – sticks drivers with a minimum $250 fine for having snow and ice on their cars. Persons getting this ticket more than once could face a $1000 fine. Three times is points on the license or even a temporary suspension. 

Pennsylvania has a similar law known as Christine’s Law – named after a similarly tragic ice sheet event – which sees fines start at $50 and go up to $1,500 based on the frequency of violations and severity. 

Is driving with snow on your car dangerous? 

A man sits in his snow-covered car | Lambert/Getty

These laws weren’t made up to hassle us. These laws react to a trend of dangerous driving habits that cost people their lives. Car and Driver note that while fines may not affect everyone equally, it’s worth thinking about the actual potential effect not scrapping the ice and snow from your car could have.

Linda Smith, Jessica’s mother, has something to say on the matter. “It takes not even five minutes to clean off your car,” she told WMUR at the time. “It can take three seconds to kill somebody.”