Know Your Regulations: A Regional Guide to Snow Removal Laws

Snow removal can and should be a clear cut process. That may be exactly why you decided to start your business in the first place. However, failing to understand regional snow removal laws, city ordinances, and whatever else coming from your local government’s office can make your job harder than it needs to be. Sometimes it can even cause you catastrophic trouble due to fines and violations.

While snow removal is a simple process with some fairly simple guidelines outlined within the state law where you operate, you need to understand these laws back to front. And while many states share similar laws regarding snow removal it would be disastrous to assume they are the same if you operate within multiple states. With that said, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most notable differences in our region.

It’s important to remember that we are now lawyers and offer you no legal counsel. This resource is simply meant to illustrate that each state has different ordinances in place and to emphasize your state snow removal laws. If you have questions or need advice, check with your legal counsel or local government!

Wisconsin Snow Removal

WisDOT Website

tractor removing snow in wisconsin

Shovel Your Sidewalk

Property owners are required to clear and shovel snow from their public sidewalk by noon of the following day after snowfall has stopped. Failing to clear away snow will result in a city crew removing the snow, after which the property owner will be billed for the service. 

Your City May Clear the Snow Away for You

If you are physically unable to clear snow away from your sidewalk then you may qualify for assistance, after which a city crew will clear away snow from your public sidewalk free of charge. Furthermore, any accumulation of over 4 inches of snow will be cleared away by the city.

Illinois Snow Removal

IDOT Website

Shoveling Snow Minimizes Your Liability

woman walking down a snowy street in chicago, illinois

The sheer act of dutifully clearing snow and ice from your property, thanks to the Snow and Ice Removal Act, will clear you from any liability should someone slip and fall on your property.

Clear Your Snow Before the Night After

In Chicago, the city states that snow and ice falling between the hours of 7 am and 7 pm must be cleared away from your property by 10 pm. To put it simply, any snow that falls during daylight hours needs to be cleared away the night of. Failing to do so could lead to a fine.

Ohio Snow Removal

ODOT Website

Liability is on the Shoulders of the Property Owner

While the state of Ohio itself has no laws governing snow removal, the cities themselves all have regulations requiring property owners to clear snow accumulations promptly. Furthermore, liability is on the property owner should anyone slip and fall due to poorly cleared sidewalks adjacent to their property.

You Have 12 Hours to Clear Snow & Ice

Within the city of Dayton, Ohio property owners have 12 hours following a snow event to clear their public sidewalks of snow and ice. Failing to do so will result in the city clearing away the snow and fining the property owner.

Indiana Snow Removal

INDOT Website

Clear Snow the Night or Morning Of

Indianapolis has a city ordinance mandating that property owners clear snow on time with a window of time dependent on when the snowfall stops. If snowfall stops by 7 pm, then snow removal needs to be complete by 9 am the next morning. If snowfall stops by 9 am, then snow removal needs to be complete by 7 pm that evening.

man standing in a parking lot where snow has been removed

Your Shoveled Snow Cannot Obstruct Roadways

The state of Indiana is very clear that snow from the sidewalk you shoveled cannot obstruct the road. This includes shovel snow, snow moved from a snowblower, and snow plowed by a truck. It’s important to find a place to leave your snow that is out-of-the-way.

Minnesota Snow Removal

MnDOT Website

24 Hours for Homes & 4 Hours for Commercial Buildings

Minneapolis is very clear about their snow removal expectations. For single-family homes and/or duplexes, the state gives you an entire day to clear snow away. For commercial buildings and apartment complexes (basically, any place with tenants and/or a parking lot) you have 4 hours to clear snow. Minneapolis considers “cleared snow” as snow and ice removed down to the pavement.

Do Not Obstruct Roads or Highways

While the state itself does not offer much in snow removal regulations, it does stipulate that cleared-away snow cannot in any way obstruct a road or highway.

North & South Dakota Snow Removal

South Dakota DOT Website | North Dakota DOT Website

Remove Snow or Face a Fine

The Dakotas keep their snow and ice removal regulations minimal. However, they are clear in their legislation that any snow or ice removal done by the city on behalf of a property owner will be appropriately billed to that property owner.

snow removed from a fire hydrant

Clear Snow Around Hydrants

The city of Bismarck makes it clear that snow removal isn’t just about sidewalks. They specify that snow and ice should be cleared 3 to 5 feet around fire hydrants.

Iowa Snow Removal

Iowa DOT Website

Des Moines Wants Your Car Off the Road

The city of Des Moines makes it clear in their list of snow removal regulations that, during and following a snow event, no vehicles should be parked on the street to facilitate snow plow maneuverability. Furthermore, property owners have 48 hours to clear away snow and ice from their sidewalks following a snowfall.

You Are Liable for Snow & Ice-Related Falls

The state of Iowa does not mince its words when it tells property owners that it is their responsibility to remove snow and ice in a “reasonable amount of time” following a snowfall. Failure to remove snow would make the property owner liable for any injuries resulting from a slip and fall on the sidewalks adjacent to their property.

Missouri Snow Removal

MoDOT Website

snow storm covering streets of a town in missouri

Missouri is Lax on Snow & Ice

Missouri, surprisingly, has nothing significant in its legislature regarding snow and ice removal.

The City of Bozeman Gives You a Window

While the state of Missouri is relatively unconcerned with spelling out snow and ice removal regulation, the city of Bozeman in Missouri has spelled it out for its residents. Property owners are expected to clear away snow and ice by 9 am following a snowfall event. If needed, the city will clear away the snow and bill the property owner.

Let Local & State Laws Work for You

These are just a few of the laws governing these states. To avoid litigation, violations, or fines, it’s important to understand the state and municipal laws governing the snow and ice removal practices in your region.  Look at it this way—almost every state requires property owners to take responsibility for the public sidewalks adjacent to their property—many owners don’t have the time or may even be too old. That’s where you come in—you’re the professional that will give them one less thing to worry about in the winter.

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