…Not Just Your Windshield
Many people are unaware of this, but the law in New Jersey requires you to remove the snow and ice from your entire car – not just the windshield – before operating a motor vehicle. N.J.S.A. 39:4-77.1 requires motorists to remove snow and ice from the entire vehicle before traveling. Since this law took effect in October of 2010, over 3,000 tickets have been issued for this violation.
Most drivers assume that as long as their windows are clear, they are safe. As snow or ice dislodges from a vehicle, however, it has the potential to strike another vehicle or a pedestrian and can cause significant injury and/or property damage. Indeed, snow and ice accumulations create dangerous conditions for those who are struck by ice or snow or for those who try to divert these dangers.
Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:4-77.1, a motorist (including a commercial truck driver) is required to remove accumulated ice or snow from all exposed areas of the motor vehicle before operating it. Exposed areas include the vehicle’s hood, roof, trunk, and windshields. The law, however, does not apply to those motorists who are operating a motor vehicle during a snow or ice storm which began during operation of the vehicle or to parked vehicles.
If you are found to have violated this statute, you will be subject to a fine of between $25 and $75, regardless of whether or not snow or ice was actually dislodged from your vehicle. Additionally, if your failure to remove snow or ice causes injury or property damage, you can face a fine of between $200 to $1,000. Commercial drivers face fine of between $500 to $1,000 for each offense.
So, to avoid being ticketed for this offense or, worse yet, causing injury or property damage to another, remember to remove all snow and ice from your vehicle before driving, especially from your vehicle’s hood, trunk, roof, and windshields. If flying ice or snow causes injury or property damage, not only do you face the fines mentioned above, but you could also be sued by the injured party, which could potentially cost you much more than the fine. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Be safe and take adequate precautions throughout the winter months and beyond.