Should You Have to Pay a Fine for the Snow or Ice on Your Car?
It comes up every winter – well, for the last several years anyway. Some call it government overreach; others consider it necessary for public safety. In some states, it is already law. In others, like Virginia, it is still a matter for debate. The issue is, of course, snow removal from vehicles, and with the accumulating snowfalls that Central Virginia has seen, and continues to see, it felt like the perfect time to discuss it.
Across the country, this is not a new issue. National Public Radio wrote about it in 2015. Good Housekeeping wrote about it in 2016. Weather Guide also has an easy-to-find list. All of these lists have one thing in common. Virginia is not on them.
The Proposed Snow Removal Law:
That could be changing, however. This past January, Delegate Michael P. Mullin from Newport News proposed a bill to the House that would make it illegal to drive with snow and ice left on your car. The bill would be an addition to the chapter of the Code of Virginia on Regulation of Traffic.
The language of the proposed bill says that it would be a $100 fine for a vehicle to have so much snow or ice on it that the removal, or dislodging, of said snow or ice could "interfere with the operation of another moving motor vehicle or cause injury to persons or property.” Three exceptions are given in the bill: emergency vehicles, vehicles working to clear snow and ice, and vehicles during a storm that have accumulated snow and ice during the storm.
The Fate of the Snow Removal Bill:
Virginia’s Legislative Information System (LIS) allows citizens to track the bills in each session. Right now, the LIS shows that the bill is in committee. It is possible that it will stay there and never see the legal light of day.
Specifically, the bill has been referred to the Committee on Transportation. A quick glance at the list of delegates on that committee shows a familiar name to Central Virginia citizens: Scott Garrett. Garrett represents the 23rd District, which spans parts of the City of Lynchburg, Amherst County, and Bedford County.
Debate on the Bill:
So which one is it? Is this proposed bill necessary for the public’s safety? Advocates for it point to accidents that were caused by heavy snow or ice on vehicles, but the NPR article linked above noted that very few studies on specific incidents has actually been done.
Perhaps, then, this is another example of government overreach, or, "over criminalization". The good news is that, as of now, you don't have to pay a fine for the snow and ice that may fall off your car. There are other incidents, however, stemming from traffic violations that not only result in fines but also court appearances and criminal charges. If you are facing the prospect of this and need an attorney to represent you, call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
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