Colorado drivers face fines for not removing snow from vehicles

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DENVER -- Scraping snow and ice off vehicles might be the last thing you want to do the morning after a big Colorado snowstorm.

But it could save you a lot of headaches and even money down the road.

If you don't clean your windshield of snow and ice, you can be ticketed if it is obstructing your view.

But state laws are much more lax than in many other states. About a dozen states also require drivers to remove snow and ice not only from their windshields, but from their entire car.

"It is shocking because in Colorado we're known for our snow and maybe as a state we should address this," said Alessandra Morales, a personal injury attorney with McDivitt Law Firm.

According to AAA, you can be fined up to $1,500 if ice flies off your vehicle and causes injury or property damage in Pennsylvania. Connecticut and New Jersey have similar laws.

Other states don't specifically require snow to be removed, but if it falls off your vehicle and causes an accident you could be cited for an unsecure load.

Some municipalities in Colorado have city ordinances to protect drivers from "ice missiles," as they are sometimes called. However, state law is less specific.

"It's a gray area, absolutely a gray area," Morales said.

Drivers can be ticketed if the ice flies off of a windshield, but there's nothing on the books that specifically addresses snow and ice on the rest of the vehicle.

"Colorado does mandate that you as a driver act reasonably in all circumstances. It means a reasonable person would remove all the snow," Morales said.

However, what's reasonable is often subjective and it can be hard to convince a jury.

"If the argument is it was frozen, it was stuck to my car, I couldn't get it off, who knows how that would go," Morales said.

Colorado drivers can file an insurance claim if they're hurt or if their car is damaged, but the other driver often never stops or even realizes what happened.