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Preparing your winter morning drive legally

Minnesota is home to some of the most unpredictable winter weather in the nation. Temperatures can drop 40 degrees in just a day, and a mostly sunny weekend could end with a snowstorm the next morning.

As you ready your tools for whatever this year's winter throws at you, keep in mind that safety is not your only concern. Those who are reckless or lazy with how they respond to the colder weather could find themselves in trouble with the law. Residents should familiarize themselves with the state's policies to avoid putting themselves and others in danger.

Snow shoveling

While sidewalk snow cleaning is not required by the whole state of Minnesota, certain cities such as Minneapolis enforce homeowners to shovel them within 24 hours. If you do not live in a municipality, then you are responsible for clearing snow and ice that is adjacent to your property. Residents who do not shovel their property in cities that enforce these laws may receive a fine from the city if they do not cooperate. Additionally, they could face a personal injury lawsuit from someone that slips on the unsalted ice on their property.

Homeowners also need to be careful where they put the snow as they are shoveling it. It is against the law to shovel snow into the street or a nearby alleyway. Doing so could endanger the incoming drivers who go near your home and leave you open for a lawsuit.

Clearing your car

Minnesota requires drivers to not have their windshield or side windows covered with snow, steam frost or anything that obscures their vision. Quick reactions and solid brake timing is crucial towards driving in the winter, and having a snow or ice-covered windshield impacts your ability to use either of them. If you get into an accident without a clean windshield, your chances of being found liable increase exponentially.

Even though the state does not have any laws against failing to remove snow from the hood or top of the vehicle, it would be wise to do so. The snow could either fall on top of your windshield or fall back and hit another car. If the snow or ice that falls off your car causes another vehicle to crash, you could be potentially violating the state's "unsecured load" statute and face charges for your actions.

Several Minnesotans still lack the experience or preparation to deal with the state's harsh winters. If you receive major injuries as a result of their negligence, you should consider seeking legal assistance to help you recover from damages. With how long winters can be in the North Star State, it is crucial to educate yourself on how to prevent and respond to accidents in the cold.

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