Outside Legal Counsel PLC

Legal Obligations for Snowpocalypse

For Immediate Release | Feb 01, 2011

The National Weather Service has issued various snow, lake effect, or blizzard warnings for most of Michigan's Lower Peninsula for Tuesday night and beyond. Some locations may see as much 20 inches of snow.

With the record amount of expected snowfall, Michigan citizens are reminded of a certain legal obligations involving winter snow.

In Michigan, various state and local authorities are responsible for snow removal on sidewalks, roadways, highways, and expressways. Private homeowners are responsible for the snow that falls on their property. Cities have a wide variety of ordinances regarding the duties of businesses and homeowners to remove snow from certain sidewalks.

Under the Motor Vehicle Code, Michiganders are banned from depositing snow, ice, or slush on any roadway or highway. MCL 257.677a(4). The law does not provide any exception for unusually heavy snow weather circumstances. State and county employees are exempt from this requirement in the performance of their snow-plowing duties.

Michigan law also prohibits the removal or depositing of snow in the shoulder of the roadway that obstructs the safety vision of drivers. MCL 257.677a(2)-(3). Any placement of snow must give drivers a clear line of sight to travel in a safe manner.

Michigan drivers are required to have their vehicles equipped with windshield wipers or a device for cleaning rain, snow, or other moisture from the windshield; historical vehicles excepted. MCL 257.709(4).

Drivers may use a tire chain of reasonable proportion when required for safety because of snow and ice but metal tire studs, with a few exceptions, are still prohibited. MCL 257.710.

The February 1, 2011 snowstorm is expected to be the biggest snowstorm of the season. Be safe.

Philip L. Ellison, MBA, JD, Esq is an attorney and civil litigator with Michigan-based Outside Legal Counsel PLC. Visit his online profile at www.olcplc.com