Wednesday 24th January 2018
Is it illegal to drive with snow on your car?

The north of the country is more prone to snow, meaning northern drivers will need to pay more attention to brushing snow off their cars. Setting off without clearing your car could mean you’re breaking the law.

RAC Cars reports:

You’re late for an engagement or just need to pop to the shops in the car – but it’s covered in snow and ice.

The bottom line is you need a clear view of the road before setting off, you can’t make any shortcuts.

In the eyes of the law, you need to clear that snow before you go.

The law

There is no road law that says it is illegal to drive with snow on your car.

However, the Highway Code stipulates that if driving in adverse weather conditions you must, by law, be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle.

This is supported by the section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988, meaning it is a legal requirement to have a clear view of the road ahead before you set off.

Failure to do so could incur a fine, but more importantly could place your life, the lives of your passengers and the lives of those around you in danger.

This also means ensuring your windscreen is de-iced on the outside and thoroughly demisted on the inside.

Snow on your roof?

As for the snow on the roof, while, again, there is no law stating it is illegal to drive with snow on your roof, if it falls off onto your windscreen while driving or flies into the path of another car then you could be penalised for such offences as 'driving without due consideration' or 'using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition' - again, not worth the risk.

Even if you’re only making a two-minute journey, by not thoroughly cleaning your car of snow, ice or condensation – including all windows, lights and even anything that could fall off into the path of another motorists – you’re breaking the law and leaving yourself liable to a run in with the police.

That means fully wiping snow or frost from every window (a quick once over with a credit card or CD case is not good enough!). Use a proper scraper and de-icer. It might cost a few pounds, but it works and will save you time.

What else might you not have considered?


As well as clearing the snow before you set off, you must, by law also demist all windows so you can properly see out of them - to find out how to do it in the best way visit our how to demist your windscreen in double-quick time page.


As well as the legal implications of not being able to see out of your window clearly, if you are involved in an accident it could mean you are at fault and if your car insurance company finds you were at fault through neglecting to properly prepare your vehicle, they could potentially withhold a pay-out.

Lights and plates

In addition, it is also the law that all lights and number plates are clearly visible too. In the murky grey light that often comes with driving in wintery conditions it’s advisable to drive with your sidelights or dipped headlights on so as other drivers can see you.

Without this they might miss you as they pull out of a side road, leading to the same consequences as above.

During the winter you will be using your lights more as you will be driving in darker conditions more often. It is important to check your are all working and replace any that aren't.


For the same reasons it’s imperative that all your mirrors are clear and demisted along with your vehicle’s glass area – don’t be tempted to drive off before your vision is 100% clear.

If you don’t adhere these rules you could leave yourself open to a £60 fine and three penalty points on your licence, at worst under the offences of careless or inconsiderate driving.

Driving in the snow is more dangerous than ordinary driving conditions. With reduced visibility, the potential for ice, and potential mechanical problems which may ensue with much colder temperatures, it’s important to take extra care.

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