Does Massachusetts Law Require Drivers to Remove Ice and Snow from Vehicles?

File photo of a Massachusetts plow clearing a highwayDoes Massachusetts have a law requiring drivers to remove snow and ice from vehicles before they drive? The attorneys at Sheff Law hear this question a lot. The simple answer is that there is no law that directly states that drivers have to remove snow from a vehicle before they drive. The detailed answer is that Massachusetts does not need a specific law on snow and ice removal, because there are other laws on the books that hold drivers liable for accidents resulting from flying snow.

Sheff Law has extensive experience with winter car accidents and truck accidents, and we have seen firsthand the very dim view Massachusetts police take of people who fail to remove snow and ice from their roofs. In short, if ice from your vehicle hurts or kills someone, you will wind up in civil court and you could wind up facing criminal charges.

Several Massachusetts laws can be used to cite drivers for snow and ice. One commonly cited civil violation is Chapter 85, Section 36, which covers unsecured loads. This civil violation carries fines of up to $200, and a citation will put a driver at a significant disadvantage in a civil liability case.

Police can also issue criminal charges that could lead to an arrest and jail time. Either Chapter 90, Section 24, which covers reckless or negligent operation of a motor vehicle, or Chapter 90, Section 23, which covers obscured license plates, could be used to incarcerate a driver after an accident involving flying ice and snow. A criminal conviction on reckless or negligent driving charges is a near guarantee of civil liability.

Operators of box trucks and semis tend to get greater scrutiny from police for snow and ice violations, but all drivers can be charged under Massachusetts law. Whether you operate an SUV or a Smart Fortwo, never get on the road without first removing all snow and ice from the hood, trunk, roof and sides of your vehicle. Even a small piece of ice can turn into a deadly projectile at highway speeds.

Accidents involving ice and snow flying from moving vehicles are always preventable, and these are some of the simplest cases for proving liability, as there is an expectation that drivers will understand the need to remove snow and ice before driving. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident involving ice or snow from a vehicle, we encourage you to contact us for a free case evaluation. You can reach us by phone at 888-423-4477 or contact us online.

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January 31st, 2017 | Posted in