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Think Before Blowing Snow or Throwing Other Things Onto the Road

With winter kicking in, heavy snowfall will show up eventually. With heavy snowfall comes the need to shovel, plow or blow the sidewalks and driveways.

Be aware that New York law won’t let you put that snow just anywhere.

Specifically, Article 1219 of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law makes it illegal to put your snow into a street or highway.

The law covers a number of other hazards to people driving in the street, and violating it could lead to a $150 fine and even 15 days in jail. It’s good for residents of Schenectady County and elsewhere to know what to watch out for to avoid running afoul of the law.

What Article 1219 Covers

Article 1219 states:

  • You can’t put snow or dangerous things like tacks, nails, glass bottles, wire, cans, or anything else that would be likely to injure a person, animal, or vehicle on the street.
  • Anyone who deposits dangerous material in the street, whether or not it was intentional, must immediately take steps to remove it.
  • Anyone removing a wrecked vehicle from the street must also make sure any glass or other dangerous items resulting from the damaged vehicle are removed.

There’s a similar New York law, Article 1220, which touches on issues related to littering.

What Article 1220 Covers

Article 1220 says you can’t dump or otherwise deposit any refuse on any highway, within the right of way of the highway, or on any private lands adjacent to the highway. The prohibited material includes, according to the law, “any nauseous or offensive matter.”

That doesn’t mean you can’t transport animals and other “agricultural stock,” as the article notes, for fear of the “natural deposits” animals might leave on the highway. The law allows for the “reasonable or unavoidable deposit of nauseous or offensive matter” in those situations. Also, the law obviously allows for depositing salt or sand to improve driving conditions in snow or sleet.

But if you do violate Article 1220, you can be fined up to $350 and ordered to community service. A second violation can raise the fine to $700.

Convenience Is Not Always the Answer

It might not be as convenient to shovel your snow onto another part of your lawn, but it’s the best way to be sure you’re not violating the law. The same goes with trash and potentially dangerous material. Anyone who has been cited under New York state law should be aware of one’s full rights in a court of law.

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