1. a. (1) Each driver of a motor vehicle operated on a street or highway in this State shall have an affirmative duty to make all reasonable efforts to remove accumulated ice or snow from exposed surfaces of the motor vehicle prior to operation, which surfaces shall include, but not be limited to, the hood, trunk, windshield, windows, and roof of the motor vehicle, the cab of a truck, the top of a trailer or semitrailer being drawn by a motor vehicle, and the top of an intermodal freight container being carried by an intermodal chassis. A person who violates the provisions of this subsection may be stopped on a street or highway by a law enforcement officer who believes the accumulated ice or snow may pose a threat to persons or property and shall be subject to a fine of not less than $25 or more than $75 for each offense regardless of whether any snow or ice is dislodged from the motor vehicle. No motor vehicle points or automobile insurance eligibility points pursuant to section 26 of P.L.1990, c.8 (C.17:33B-14) shall be assessed for a violation of this paragraph. Every day upon which a violation occurs shall be considered a separate violation, but no person shall be subject to more than one fine for a violation of this paragraph in a period of 24 consecutive hours.

(2)This subsection shall not apply to any driver of a motor vehicle operated during a snow or ice storm that began and continued for the duration of the motor vehicle’s operation or to any operator of a motor vehicle while it is parked.

(3)No fine shall be imposed pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection on the driver of a commercial motor vehicle, as the term is defined in R.S.39:1-1, that is traveling to a location where equipment or technology that is used to remove snow and ice from commercial motor vehicles is available, provided that the driver has not already passed a location with snow and ice removal equipment or technology after snow or ice shall have accumulated on the exposed surfaces of the commercial motor vehicle. In determining whether the vehicle has already passed a location with equipment or technology that is used to remove snow and ice from commercial motor vehicles, a law enforcement officer shall have the authority to inspect any documentation relating to the route traveled by the driver of the commercial motor vehicle prior to being stopped, including, but not limited to, a log book or map depicting the route traveled by the vehicle.

(4)Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection:

(a)the person who is in physical possession of a motor vehicle at the time snow or ice accumulates on the exposed surfaces of the motor vehicle shall be responsible for removing the accumulated snow or ice from the exposed surfaces of the motor vehicle and shall be liable for a violation of the duty to remove accumulated snow or ice prior to operation of the motor vehicle pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection. If the driver of the motor vehicle was not in physical possession of the motor vehicle at the time the snow or ice accumulated, then such driver shall not be liable for a violation of paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(b)in the case of any trailer or semitrailer being drawn by a motor vehicle or of any vehicle or combination of vehicles carrying an intermodal freight container, the person, including, but not limited to a shipper or consignee, who is in physical possession of the trailer, semitrailer, or container at the time snow or ice accumulates on such trailer, semitrailer, or container shall be responsible for removing the accumulated snow or ice from the trailer, semitrailer, or container and shall be liable for a violation of the duty to remove accumulated snow or ice prior to operation of a motor vehicle pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection. If the driver of the motor vehicle was not in physical possession of the trailer, semitrailer, or container at the time the snow or ice accumulated, then such driver shall not be liable for a violation of paragraph (1) of this subsection.

b.When snow or ice is dislodged from a moving vehicle and strikes another vehicle or pedestrian causing injury or property damage, the following penalties shall apply:

The operator of a non-commercial motor vehicle shall be subject to a fine of not less than $200 or more than $1,000 for each offense.

The operator, owner, lessee, bailee or any one of the aforesaid of a commercial motor vehicle shall be subject to a fine of not less than $500 or more than $1,500 for each offense.

No motor vehicle points or automobile insurance eligibility points pursuant to section 26 of P.L.1990, c.8 (C.17:33B-14) shall be assessed for a violation of this subsection.

c.The Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety in the Department of Law and Public Safety shall establish a public awareness campaign that educates the public on the importance of removing snow and ice from the exposed surfaces of motor vehicles prior to the operation of such vehicles. This campaign shall educate the public on the potential dangers associated with failing to remove snow or ice from motor vehicles as well as on the penalties that may be imposed as a result of failing to remove snow or ice from a motor vehicle prior to operation.

d.The Director of the Division of Highway Traffic Safety in the Department of Law and Public Safety, in conjunction with the Division of State Police and other law enforcement agencies, shall establish and maintain a data collection system to be used to determine the number and seriousness of motor vehicle accidents caused by snow or ice becoming dislodged from motor vehicles. In its annual report to the Legislature pursuant to section 16 of P.L.1987, c.284 (C.27:5F-33), the Division of Highway Traffic Safety shall provide an analysis of the information gathered through the data collection system and any recommendations, including any proposed legislation, for reducing the number and seriousness of accidents caused by snow or ice becoming dislodged from motor vehicles.

e.All fines imposed and collected in the enforcement of this section shall be forwarded by the person to whom they are paid to the State Treasurer, who shall annually deposit those moneys in the "Motor Vehicle Snow and Ice Removal Safety Fund" established pursuant to section 2 of P.L.2009, c.138 (C.39:4-77.2).

L.1997, c.124, s.1; amended 2009, c.138, s.1.