Is There a Massachusetts Law Requiring You to Remove Snow and Ice From Your Car?

Earlier today a driver traveling on Route 3 in Burlington was seriously injured when ice fell off a commercial truck and went through his windshield. The driver and his three passengers, presumably his wife and two kids, were all taken to Massachusetts General Hospital with injuries.


After hearing a story like this, or seeing other cars covered with snow in front of you during your commute after a snow storm, you may be wondering if Massachusetts has a law requiring drivers to remove snow and ice from vehicles before driving. The short answer is no; Massachusetts does not have a law that directly states drivers need to remove snow and ice from their vehicles before driving on public roads.

However, that does not mean that mean you can get away with being lazy and leaving piles of snow on the roof of your car or ice blocking your windshield. There are other state laws that are used by police to cite drivers for failing to clear their vehicles of snow and ice. For example, local police and Massachusetts State Troopers will routinely cite motorist for driving with snow on their vehicles under Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 85, Section 36, which covers operating a vehicle with an unsecured load. A violation under this statute will cost a driver $200. If your windshield is covered in ice you could get a $40 ticket for Impeded Operation of a motor vehicle, Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, Section 13.

Criminal penalties may also apply. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 90, Section 23 makes it a crime to operate a motor vehicle with an obscured license plate.

Additionally civil and criminal penalties could apply if falling snow or ice leads to an accident. Drivers are responsible for any accidents caused by snow and ice flying off their vehicles as the obvious danger of not clearing snow and ice off a vehicle makes a driver clearly negligent if it leads to an accident. As such, if you are involved in an accident caused by falling snow and ice, you would be entitled to compensation from the driver of offending vehicle even if there was no contact between the vehicles.



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