Remove Snow From Your Car ... Or Else
The D.C. Council will vote today on whether to require drivers to remove snow and ice from their vehicles or face a $50 fine or traffic school for failing to do so.
Council member Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5) said he came up with the emergency legislation when he was driving down the street and seeing snow-covered cars, trucks and SUVs. "I was thinking, 'Look at this fool,'" he said in an interview.
Thomas said he worries about snow and ice drifts tumbling from the roofs of those vehicles and landing on surrounding vehicles, impairing the vision of other drivers. "You close your eyes, hit the brakes and swerve," he told council members at a breakfast this morning.
But Thomas has already had to remove some lines from this bill to satisfy some council members wary of punishing drivers who struggle to scrape and brush their cars in winter weather.
Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) asked, "Why isn't it sufficient to just have the windows clear?"
Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) said as a single parent of triplets, he doesn't always have time to clear off the roof. He also has a convertible, from which he said it is more difficult to remove snow.
Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) had concerns about the definition of "excess" snow and ice. Under an initial draft of the bill, a police officer could fine a driver after determining that the vehicle had "excess" snow and ice.
"It's just like the bill itself -- common sense," Thomas said.
But the council member has taken "excess" out of the bill and said he will look more closely at creating a standard when he develops permanent legislation. "It's an emotional issue, and it's a safety issue," he said.
Council members also made a few jokes about the legislation. Council member Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7) told Thomas that the bill was unfair. "You're discriminating against people who don't have garages," she said.
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