Rocky Mountains, Colorado snowy road Photo Credit: S_Laitinen (iStock)

Photo Credit: S_Laitinen (iStock)

Colorado experienced its first winter storm system of the season on Tuesday and with more snow and poor driving conditions in the forecast, we'd like to refresh you on the state's traction and chain laws.

The state's traction law is in effect between Sept. 1 through May 31 on Interstate 70 from Dotsero to Morrison. However, in other areas the law could be activated during a winter storm, or in windy situation, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. 

The traction law focuses on passenger vehicles traveling through Colorado and requires drivers to have one of the following:

  • An AWD or 4WD vehicle with at least 3/16" tread depth
  • Tires with a mud or snow designation (M+S Icon) and 3/16" tread depth
  • Winter tires (mountain-snowflake icon) and 3/16" tread depth
  • Tires with an all-weather rating by the manufacturer and 3/16" tread depth
  • Chains or other approved alternatives such as an AutoSock. 

Other laws in place include the chain laws, which are more geared towards commercialized vehicles during a severe winter storm. However, in some situations passenger chain laws will go into effect.

Code 16, or the passenger chain law, is the state's last step before closing a highway, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. 

When in effect, every vehicle on the roadway must have chains or alternative traction devices such as the AutoSock.

Drivers who violate these regulations could face fines ranging from $133 to over $1,200, said Trooper Josh Lewis, a spokesman for the Colorado State Patrol. 

For instance, drivers of passenger vehicles who fail to comply to the tire restriction would face a $133 fine. If the same driver were to cause a road closure because of failure to comply, they would face a minimum fine of $657, Lewis said.

Fines on commercial vehicles are much harsher than passenger vehicles as failure to comply to the traction law would result in a $579 fine. Fines on the same vehicle for closing a road for failure to comply would cost over $1,200, Lewis said.

For additional information regarding traction and chain laws, click here.