Close up of snow tires on snowy road

We as Coloradoans are very familiar with experiencing multiple seasons of weather in a single day, and just as we layer our clothing for protection, we should be prepared to protect ourselves as fall weather turns to winter when in our vehicles and on our roadways.

In August 2019, Colorado legislators updated legislation requirements for drivers using state highways during winter months.  In particular, the legislature mandated use of tire chains or an alternate traction device when icy or snow packed conditions exist on the highway.  It changed the required minimum tire tread for four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles on snow roads to 3/16ths of an inch for tires that are adequate for all weather conditions.  Manufacturer imprinted tires with a mountain-snowflake, “MS”, “M+S” or “M/S” symbols or all-weather rated by the manufactures with a 3/16ths inch tread are also permissible.  Control of when and whether these restrictions go into effect is held by local authorities in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation, which regulates and has the authority to close any portion of a state highway to public travel for safety. CDOT’s Chain Law

Some Definitions

“Alternate traction device” means a device that is approved by the Colorado department of transportation as capable of providing traction comparable to that of metal chains or tire cables under similar conditions.  These include: wheel sanders, pneumatically driven chains, or textile traction device (TTD)

“Tire chains” means metal chains consisting of two circular metal loops, one on each side of the tire, connected by no fewer than nine evenly spaced chains across the tire thread.  

The public is made aware of when these requirements and closures are being imposed through use of temporary or electronic signs.  Drivers should be on the lookout for these signs on the highway at any time of year but specifically from September 1 through May 31 of each year along interstate 70 between milepost 133 (Dotsero) and milepost 259 (Morrison).  It is unlawful—illegal—to proceed to drive when a state highway is closed or when a restriction is in effect without the required equipment.

The Colorado Department of Transportation has many resources including answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) HERE

Commercial Vehicles:

Special rules apply to commercial vehicles with four or more drive wheels, other than a bus, and commercial drivers shall affix tire chains to at least four of the drive wheels of the vehicle when so required, and drivers of busses shall affix tire chains to at least two of the drive wheels of the bus when so required.  A commercial driver’s failure to do so while operating a commercial vehicle when the requirement is in effect could subject him/herself to enhanced violation penalties under the statute.  Two operators actively traveling to- or from- a site to tow a motor vehicle or while towing a motor vehicle are exempted from enhanced penalties.  Tire Chain Requirements

For Chain Up Tips for Commercial Vehicles and Drivers, check out:


Any person who violates the statute can be charged with committing a class B traffic infraction.

Any commercial driver who violates the statute can be charged with a traffic infraction, be subjected to fines and surcharges for blocking the highway as a result of not chaining up.

If you have been involved in a car accident on the highways while chain laws were in effect and you were injured, you should contact an attorney at Bell & Pollock, P.C. We can review your case and answer your questions about chain laws, discuss any recourse you might have against the other driver, as well as review your financial options.  Call Today!

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