Connecticut snow-free vehicle mandate effective Dec. 31

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 12/30/2013

Truckers using Connecticut roadways will soon face fines for failure to keep their vehicles clear of snow or ice.

Starting Tuesday, Dec. 31, a new law takes effect requiring truckers to remove wintry precipitation from hoods and roofs before getting out on the roads. The rule already applies to non-commercial vehicles.

Despite opposition from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and countless truck drivers, then-Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed a bill into law in 2010 that permits police to pull over drivers whose vehicles were not cleared of snow or ice. Implementation of the truck rule was delayed until the end of 2013.

Supporters say the snow and ice rule will make enforcement easier. Others say it creates a significant deterrent for not cleaning off a vehicle following a snow or ice storm.

Critics say such rules are nearly impossible for truck drivers to comply with. They cite concerns about people feeling compelled to climb atop large vehicles to remove snow or ice.

Violators would face $75 fines for failure to clear the wintry precipitation from their vehicles. The fine would increase to as much as $1,000 for motorists if snow and ice breaks free and results in injury or damage to another vehicle. The same circumstances would result in truck drivers facing up to $1,250 fines.

“This is a law meant to protect citizens and motorists from these elements that can be very dangerous when coming off traveling trucks,” DMV Commissioner Melody Currey said in a news release.

Drivers will not be liable for snow or ice that accumulates on a vehicle while out on the road.

Revenue from snow and ice fines will be routed to the state’s general fund.

Another new law, which is effective Wednesday, Jan. 1, brings the state in line with federal standards on drunken driving.

CDL holders will be barred from using state programs that prevent convictions for driving under the influence and some other serious traffic offenses when operating a personal vehicle. Previously, truckers could use a special state diversion program to prevent a conviction resulting from a first-time DUI in private vehicles.

Convictions would result in CDL disqualification for a required period, as well as the possibility of suspension of an offender’s regular license. The conviction would remain on a driver’s record for 55 years.

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