Is it illegal to Drive With Snow on Top of Your Car

Driving in winter brings a set of challenges, particularly in areas prone to heavy snowfall. Among these is the often-overlooked issue of driving with snow on top of your car. Is it illegal, or just a matter of good practice? This comprehensive article explores the legal and safety aspects of driving with accumulated snow on your vehicle.

 The Risks

Before delving into the legality, it’s crucial to understand the risks associated with driving with snow on your car. Snow and ice accumulating on a vehicle can pose significant hazards, not just to the driver but also to other road users. When in motion, chunks of snow or ice can dislodge and strike other vehicles, potentially causing accidents, impairing visibility, or even resulting in injuries.

Legal Landscape: Varies by Region

The legality of driving with snow on your car varies by region. In many places, especially those that experience severe winters, specific laws require drivers to remove all snow and ice from their vehicles before hitting the road.

States with Specific Laws

Some U.S. states, like New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and others, have enacted laws mandating the removal of snow and ice from vehicles. For example, in New Jersey, drivers can be fined between $25 and $75 for driving with snow on their vehicles, regardless of whether it dislodges. If flying snow or ice causes property damage or injury, fines can escalate to as high as $1,000 per incident.

Areas Without Specific Legislation

In areas without specific legislation on snow removal from vehicles, drivers may still face penalties under broader traffic laws. For instance, if snow from your car leads to an accident, you could be cited for negligence or creating a road hazard.

Safety Recommendations

Regardless of legal requirements, it’s always recommended to thoroughly clear snow and ice from your vehicle for safety. This includes the roof, windows, headlights, and tail lights. The aim is to maintain clear visibility and prevent any snow-related hazards while driving.

The Best Practices for Snow Removal

  1. Use a Snow Brush: A long-handled brush is effective for removing snow without damaging your vehicle’s paint.
  2. Start the Engine Early: Allowing your car to warm up can help loosen snow and ice, making it easier to clear.
  3. Clear All Surfaces: Don’t forget less obvious areas like the hood, trunk, and around the wheels.
  4. Check Local Laws: Be aware of any specific regulations in your area regarding snow removal from vehicles.

Technology and Innovation

Car manufacturers and tech companies are continually exploring innovative solutions to address the issue of snow accumulation on vehicles. These include advanced coatings and car covers designed to prevent snow buildup, though they are yet to become mainstream solutions.

Liability and Insurance Implications

Driving with snow on your car can also have insurance implications. If you’re involved in an accident caused by snow or ice falling from your vehicle, it could affect your liability and insurance claims. It’s always prudent to consult with your insurance provider to understand the specific terms and coverage.


In conclusion, while the legality of driving with snow on your car varies depending on where you live, it’s universally acknowledged as a safety risk. Proactive snow and ice removal is essential for safe winter driving. By staying informed about local laws and adhering to best practices for snow removal, drivers can contribute to safer roads during the winter season.