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Sacco-Gordon Bill Advances To Punish Snow-Heavy Drivers

Senator Nicholas J. Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen, votes in the Senate Chambers.

TRENTON – The Senate today approved legislation, S-520, sponsored by Senators Nicholas J. Sacco and Bob Gordon to impose a fine of up to $75 for drivers who fail to make a reasonable effort to remove snow or ice from their vehicles.

“This bill is designed to prevent accidents before they happen,” said Senator Sacco, D-Hudson and Bergen. “Current law only imposes penalties after flying ice or snow blows off the roof of a car or truck and hurts someone or causes damage to another vehicle.”

“We want to motivate drivers to be considerate and reduce the likelihood of mishaps during already dangerous, weather-related driving conditions,” said Senator Gordon, D-Bergen.

The bill would require drivers to make all reasonable efforts to remove accumulated ice or snow from the hoods, trunks and roofs of their cars prior to using them. It would take effect a year from its enactment to provide time for technology upgrades.

“With this bill, law enforcement will be empowered to pull over drivers when their vehicles are on the road while bearing dangerous levels of snow or ice,” said Senator Sacco.

“The people who will benefit from this bill are innocent drivers who shouldn’t have to dodge flying chunks of snow and ice because others don’t take a few minutes to be safe,” said Senator Gordon. “Pedestrians will be safer too.”

Those who are charged under the bill would face fines ranging from $25 to a maximum of $75, Senator Sacco said. The measure makes it clear that no motor vehicle points will be assessed for violators, he said.

Senator Gordon said the measure would augment the current law which calls for penalties of up to $1,000 for cars and up to $1,500 for trucks whose drivers cause personal injury or property damage as a result of flying snow or ice.

The measure would not apply to accumulated precipitation that gathers during the course of one continuous road trip to avoid forcing drivers to clean vehicles along roadsides in dangerous conditions, Senator Sacco said.

“The sad reality is that we need a law like this because there are people who would otherwise endanger the lives and safety of others by taking to the road with potentially dangerous materials covering their vehicles,” Senator Sacco said.

After the Senate approval vote of 35-1, the measure was forwarded to the Assembly.

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