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avoid traffic tickets in winter by clearing windshields

Watch out for these traffic tickets in winter

It’s winter, which means weather conditions on BC’s roads are more hazardous. It also means drivers could pick up some traffic tickets in winter that they might not in any other season.

In winter, your obligations as a driver change. This blog will look at some of those obligations and the penalties that are given to anyone who fails to fulfill them.

Traffic tickets for not having winter tires

This is an important one. Every year between October 1 and April 30, it is mandatory to have winter tires or chains on most major highways in BC. However, some major cities and municipalities that do not have this requirement.

The Motor Vehicle Act states that winter tires must have a minimum tread depth of 3.5 mm. They must also display either the “M + S” or the three-peaked mountain symbol from the manufacturer to show they are mud and snow or winter tires.

The fines for not having the appropriate tires when required are $121 for passenger vehicles and $196 for commercial vehicles. The fine for commercial vehicles bypassing an active chain-up area is $598.

Speeding relative to conditions

Another important Motor Vehicle Act regulation to be aware of is speeding relative to the conditions. Section 144.1 (c) makes it an offence to drive at a speed that is excessive relative to the weather conditions. This is actually a careless driving offence.

Essentially, this means that if it’s snowing or icy and the roads are slippery, you should slow down. You could potentially be given a speeding ticket for driving at the posted speed limit if the weather conditions are sufficiently bad. It is your obligation as a driver to pay attention to the weather conditions and change your driving behaviour as appropriate.

Anyone who commits this offence is liable to a minimum fine of $100. In more serious cases, the punishment could extend to a $2,000 fine or even a maximum of six months in prison. In addition, ICBC considers speeding in excess to the weather conditions a high-risk offence. So anyone caught doing this should expect to pay insurance premiums.

Windshields and windows

We’ve all been there. You’re in a rush to get to work on time but your car is covered in snow. Or the windshield is iced over. Don’t be tempted to drive off before the windshield is completely clear or you could get a ticket.

Section 7.05 of the Motor Vehicle Act states: “No person shall drive or operate on a highway a motor vehicle the windshield or any window of which is in such condition that the vision of the driver is impaired.”

So make sure you clear not only the front and rear windshields but all windows and side mirrors. Clearing a peephole on the driver’s side windshield is not enough. It’s also important to clear snow from the roof of your car. Falling snow or ice can be a hazard to other road users. The RCMP pulled over this person two years ago who thought this was acceptable:

Section 195.1 (b) of the MVA states the view of the driver to the front or sides of the vehicle must not be obstructed. A violation costs $109 and three penalty points.