Police stress snow removal laws

Keeping up with the snow can prove to be a challenge in the winter. People spend time and energy clearing off their cars, driveways and sidewalks. It may be a pain, but police tell 7&4 News it is also your responsibility.

â??If your (car) windows are covered with snow, your rear window is covered, the rear of your car is covered so your lights are covered...those are things where an officer may stop youâ?¦say you need to do something about it or even cite you because there are traffic laws that govern these types of things,â?? said Steve Morgan, Traverse City Police Captain.

According to police, citations can be as high as $95 and add two points to your driving record.

Officers say they are not only looking at your car windows and lights.

They want to make sure they can see your registration plates as well.

â??There is a law that states your registration plate has to be clearly visible from behind, so you want to clear the snow off that area....but I think the main thing you have to realize is we have a number of traffic collisions (and some of them involve injuries) where the cause is visibility obstruction and it is just something that doesn't need to happen,â?? Captain Morgan said.

While officers monitor safety on the roads, city leaders are focused on sidewalks and parking lots.

In Traverse City, their code of ordinances defines what a property ownerâ??s responsibility is.

â??Snow removal is the responsibility of the person who owns or occupies private property adjacent to any city sidewalk...they are liable for any injuries that happen and they can be issued with a civil infraction for not taking care of it,â?? said Loyd Morris, Traverse City Code Enforcement Officer.

The City of Cadillac follows similar guidelines. Although, Mayor Bill Barnett said they seldom have issues.

â??We are not going to go fine an elderly woman for not clearing her sidewalk,â?? Barnett said.

In downtown Petoskey, their snow removal ordinance reads....

"The (property) owner shall remove such snow...accumulated during the nighttime, by 12:00 noon; snow falling or drifting during the day shall be removed before 12:00 noon of the following day....if any occupant or owner shall neglect or fail to clear ice or snow from the sidewalk...the city manager may cause such ice or snow to be cleared at a rate of $0.50 per foot of length, with a minimum charge of $25.00 per occurrence."

Petoskeyâ??s city planner said the city does help with snow removal.

Something to keep in mind when you are outside shoveling, there are ordinances in some areas (like Traverse City) that state it is illegal to plow snow from private property onto city streets.