Winter driving conditions can be expected in the Colorado high country as early as September and as late as May. Travelers must be prepared to drive safely at all times and in all conditions. View the winter driving guide to help you safely navigate our beautiful mountain roads during these winter months.
Colorado's Chain Law
Colorado's Chain Law is not just for Large Commercial Vehicles. All vehicles need to be prepared to have adequate tires and equipment when traveling in Colorado during the winter. Chain Law and safe tire requirements can be put into effect at any time for all types of vehicles. These requirements have recently changed.
Interstate 70 Winter Driving Requirements, from the beginning of September until the end of May.
All motor vehicles operating with a GCWR/GVWR of 16,001 pounds or more on I-70 in either direction between milepost 133 (Dotsero) and milepost 259 (Morrison) must carry sufficient chains (traction devices) for the type of vehicle being driven to be in compliance with the chain law requirements should they go into effect.
All two-wheel drive motor vehicles with a GCWR/GVWR less than 16,001 pounds traveling on any portion of I-70 between mile point 259 (Morrison) and mile point 133 (Dotsero) must have:
Tire chains for two or more drive tires; OR
An approved ATD for two or more drive tires; OR
Tires with a tread depth of at least 3/16-inch and which are rated for either "All weather" or
"Mud and Snow" (indicated by a "All Season," M+S, M/S, etc. on sidewall) by the manufacturer.
All four-wheel drive motor vehicles with a GCWR/GVWR that is less than 16,001 pounds traveling on any portion of I-70 between mile point 259 (Morrison) and mile point 133 (Dotsero) must have tires with a tread depth of at least 3/16-inch and are adequate for winter driving conditions.
Penalty for non-compliance: $50 fine plus a $17 surcharge.
There are three types of restrictions (commonly referred to has chain laws) which may be placed in effect on roadways in Colorado.
- Passenger Vehicle Traction Law
To be disqualified by an appointing authority upon admission or confirmation of:
The passenger traction law requires two-wheel drive passenger vehicles to have all weather or mud and snow rated tires with adequate tread or to affix chains or alternate traction devices (ATDs). Four/all-wheel drive vehicles must have all drive wheels engaged and tires with adequate tread depth.
- Passenger Vehicle Chain Law
- The Passenger Vehicle Chain Law imposes the most restrictive requirements during inclement weather. All passenger vehicles must have chains or alternate traction devices (ATDs) on two or more drive tires. This applies to every two/four/all-wheel drive passenger vehicle in the affected area.
- Commercial Vehicle Chain Law
The Commercial Motor Vehicle Chain Law is a requirement for all large vehicles to affix chains or alternate traction devices (ATDs) to all drive tires (up to four). Even though it has "commercial" in the name, the requirement is based on the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) or Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) for the vehicle regardless of its use (private or commercial).
Penalty for non-compliance with winter driving restrictions: Up to a $500 fine plus a $79 surcharge or, if you are stuck and blocking any traveled portion of the roadway the fine is $1,000 plus a $157 surcharge.
How will the different chain law restrictions be announced?
At a minimum, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will notify the public of the travel restriction with erected static and electronic variable message roadway signs. Additionally, CDOT may utilize radio channels, the official CDOT travel website (www.cotrip.org), phone message system, email, text and other automated personal notification systems.