Winter is right around the corner, which means higher elevation areas are already getting snow. So it’s an important time for truck drivers to familiarize themselves with the chain laws in the states they normally run. Chain Laws by State

ATBS helped put together the information and chain laws by state below.

Alabama

The use of tire chains shall be permitted upon any vehicle when required for safety because of snow, rain, or other conditions tending to cause a vehicle to slide or skid.

Alaska

You are not permitted to use chains from May 1 through September 15 when north of 60 North Latitude.

You are not permitted to use chains from April 15 through September 30 when south of 60 North Latitude.

If you are operating a vehicle on Sterling Highway, you are not permitted to use chains from May 1 through September 15.

You will need to obtain a special permit from the Department of Administration if you would like to use chains in one of these prohibited zones.

Arizona

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

Arkansas

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

California

California does not require trucks to carry chains during any specified time period. When the weather hits, though, it takes at least eight chains for a standard tractor-trailer configuration to comply with the regulations.

During the winter months, there might be traction chain controls in the mountain areas. When these are established you will see signs posted along the highway. These signs will also include the type of requirement, which will include one of the following:

  • R1 – Chains, traction devices or snow tires are required on the drive axle of all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles.
  • R2 – Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles except four wheel/ all wheel drive vehicles with snow-tread tires on all four wheels.
  • R3 – Chains or traction devices are required on all vehicles, no exceptions.

Colorado

From September 1 through May 31, all trucks may be required at any time at higher elevations when conditions warrant. Trucks must also carry sufficient chains on I-70 when traveling between mile marker 259 outside Golden, CO and mile marker 133 in Dotsero, CO. If you get stopped and do not have chains on your truck, the fine is $50 plus a surcharge of $16.

If you do not put chains on your truck when the law is in effect, the fine is $500 plus a $79 surcharge. If you do not put chains on and you end up blocking the highway, then the fine will increase to $1,000 plus a $157 surcharge.

Colorado has two different types of chain laws:

  • Level 1 – Single-axle combination commercial vehicles must chain up. Trucks must have all four drive tires in chains. When level 1 is in effect, all other commercial vehicles must have snow tires or chains.
  • Level 2 – When level 2 is in effect, all commercial vehicles are required to chain up the four drive tires.

Connecticut

Cables and chains are permitted only from Nov. 15 through April 30. The chains can not be damaging to the highway’s surface. No minimum number of chains is outlined in the regulations. Violations will start with a warning, but all subsequent offenses will result in a fine not more than $200.

Delaware

You are permitted to use chains on highways from October 15 through April 15 “for safety because of snow, ice or other conditions tending to cause a vehicle to slide or skid.”

State officials can restrict travel on highways during emergency situations.

Georgia

At any time the Georgia Department of Transportation may close or limit access to certain highways during inclement weather. If this occurs, signage will be placed to inform drivers that chains are required in order to proceed.

For commercial vehicles, chains must be placed on the outermost drive tires.

Any driver who causes a wreck or blocks the flow of traffic when not complying with the above laws on a limited-access highway will be fined up to $1,000.

Idaho

Officials with the Idaho Department of Transportation can determine that it is unsafe to drive over Lookout Pass and Fourth of July Pass on I-90, and Lolo Pass on Highway 12. If it is deemed unsafe, then you will be required to chain up a minimum of one tire on each drive axle and one axle at or near the rear. sSigns will alert you when to chain up.

Idaho defines chains as two circular metal loops, one on each side of the tire, connected by not less than nine evenly spaced chains across the tread.

Illinois

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

Indiana

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways. Indiana also allows “tires in which have been inserted ice grips or tire studs, including retractable tire studs” from Oct. 1 to the following May 1. Just make sure those studs are no more than 3/32 of an inch beyond the tread of the traction surface and do not damage the road.

Iowa

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

Kansas

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

Kentucky

No person shall use on a highway not covered with ice a vehicle with a chained wheel unless the wheel rests upon an ice-shoe at least 6 inches wide. When chains are used on rubber-tired vehicles, the cross chains shall be not more than three-fourths (3/4) of an inch in thickness or diameter, and shall be spaced not more than ten inches apart, around the circumference of the tires.

Louisiana

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

Maine

Vehicles cannot have tires with metal studs, wires, spikes or other metal protruding from the tire tread from May 1 through Oct. 1. Other than that time frame, there is nothing noted within the law regulating the use of tire chains, and that time frame can be extended if needed, other than that the use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

Maryland

Chains may be required in Maryland if a snow emergency is declared. Snow emergencies can be declared for individual roads or statewide. Travel – other than for motorcycles – is prohibited on any highway that is designated and appropriately marked by signs as a vehicle emergency route when a snow emergency is in effect unless the vehicle is equipped with chains or snow tires on at least one wheel at each end of a driving axle.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts prohibits the use of studded tires and chains between May 1 and Nov. 1 without a permit. It should also be noted that commercial vehicles can be ordered off the roadways during “snow emergencies.”

Michigan

The use of chains is allowed for safety when snow, ice, or other condition are present. If chains are used, they must not come in direct contact with the roads surface.

Minnesota

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

Mississippi

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

Missouri

No person shall operate any motor vehicle upon any road or highway of this state between the first day of April and the first day of November while the motor vehicle is equipped with tires containing metal or carbide studs. The law suggests a time frame, but weather is typically fine April through November anyway.

Montana

If the Montana Department of Transportation determines that highways are too dangerous for travel, roadside sings will tell drivers when to chain up. The state’s requirement when the law is in effect is for all “driver wheels” to be chained up.

Violations will result in a $25 fine.

Nebraska

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

Nevada

Roadside signs will let you know when chaining up is required. In Nevada, truckers will need to chain at least two wheels on the main drive axle. You are also required to chain the “braking wheels of any trailing vehicle in a combination of vehicles.”

New Hampshire

Nothing in the state statutes addresses snow tires or tire chains specifically. However, the New Hampshire driver’s manual found on the official New Hampshire website recommends tire chains in slippery conditions. So we can assume they’re good to go during inclement weather.

New Jersey

New Jersey goes a little beyond the standard “chains are permitted when needed” directive.

However, no chains shall be used at any time on improved highways when highway conditions do not make such use necessary for the “safety of life or property.”

New Mexico

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

New York

If New York officials, either state or local, post a route as a snow emergency route, all vehicles traveling on it will be required to have snow tires and/or chains. There are no specifics mandating the number of chains or placement.

North Carolina

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

North Dakota

In addition to the standard “chains whenever reasonably needed,” North Dakota also allows metal studs within 1/16 inch beyond tread from Oct. 15 through April 15.

Ohio

In addition to the standard “chains whenever reasonably needed,” North Dakota also allows metal studs within 1/16 inch beyond tread from Nov. 1 through April 15.

Oklahoma

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

Oregon

Oregon’s law applies to all highways in the state. Signs will tell you when you are required to carry chains and when you are required to use them. You will need to have six chains on hand to comply in Oregon.

A tandem-drive-axle tractor must have chains on two tires on each side of the primary drive axle (in other words, all four tires of the main axle); or

If both axles are powered, one tire on each side of each drive axle (again, four chains total required; you just don’t have to chain the inside tires).

Chains must also be placed on two tires, one on each side, of any axle on the trailer. The chains can be both on the front axle, both on the rear axle or staggered with one outside tire on the front and the outside tire of the opposite rear axle.

Pennsylvania

The state can declare emergency snow routes. If officials declare a snow emergency route when the roadway is covered with ice or snow, only vehicles with snow tires or “tire chains on two tires on a driven axle” may proceed.

Rhode Island

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

South Carolina

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

South Dakota

The South Dakota DOT has the authority to restrict travel on roads. Signs will alert you to these restrictions. Violating the restrictions could land you with a Class 2 misdemeanor conviction. Tire chains or “sufficient traction devices” are allowed. You don’t have to wait for the signs to tell you to put on your chains. Chains also are permitted if conditions tending to cause a skid are present.

Tennessee

Take caution as Tennessee sends mixed signals with its regulations. In one reg, it says that it is “permissible” to use snow chains when conditions warrant. However, elsewhere, the Volunteer State requires that every truck “likely to encounter” conditions carry at least one set of chains.

Texas

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

Utah

The Utah DOT has the authority to restrict highway travel between Oct. 1 and April 30 to vehicles either running chains or at least having them in your possession. You will need to install four or more chains on the “drive wheel” tires. A Class B misdemeanor fine of up to $1,000 can be given for violating chain laws.

Vermont

Vermont has a traffic committee that will decide if use of chains will be required. The regulation mandates that the “advance notice shall be given to the traveling public through signage and, whenever possible, through public service announcements.” This language also mandates that adequate space be provided to chain up. Vehicles with semitrailers or trailers that have a tandem-drive axle towing a trailer shall have chains:

  • On two tires on each side of the primary drive axle, or if both axles of the vehicle are powered by the drive line, one tire on each side of each drive axle; and
  • On one tire of the front axle and one tire on one of the rear axles of the trailer.

Virginia

The use of tire chains are allowed when required for safety during a time of snow, ice, or another condition that might cause slippery highways.

Washington

Any commercial vehicle over 10,000 lbs. Gross vehicle weight rating mustcarry chains from November 1 to April 1 when driving on one of the below routes.

It takes five chains to comply with the requirement. On a dual-axle tractor, the outside tires on both axles will need to be chained in addition to one tire on either side of either trailer axle. Tractors equipped with wide-base singles will have to chain each tire on each drive axle.

  • Blewett Pass

SR-97 between MP 145 and Milepost 185

  • Chinook Pass

SR-410 Enumclaw (MP 25) to SR-12 (MP 342)

  • Cle Elum to Teanaway

SR-970 Cle Elum (MP 0) to Teanaway (MP 10)

  • Gibbons Creek to Intersection of Cliffs Rd.

SR-14 Gibbons Creek (MP 18) to Intersection of Cliffs Rd. (MP 108)

  • Mt. Baker Highway (Ellensburg to Selah)

SR-542 (MP22) to (MP 57)
I-82 from Ellensburg (MP 3) to Selah (MP 26)

  • Newhalem to Winthrop

SR-20 Newhalem (MP 120) to Winthrop (MP 192)

  • Omak to Nespelem

SR-155 Omak (MP 79) to Nespelem (MP 45)

  • Satus Pass

SR-97 Columbia River (MP 00) to Toppenish (MP 59)

  • Sherman Pass

SR-20 Tonasket (MP 262) to Kettle Falls (MP 342)

  • Snoqualmie Pass

I-90 North Bend (MP 32) and Ellensburg (MP 101)

  • Stevens Pass

SR-2 Dryden (MP 108) to Index (MP 36)

  • White Pass

SR-12 Packwood (MP 135) to Naches (MP 187)

West Virginia

The use of chains is allowed for safety when snow, ice, or other condition are present. If chains are used, they must not come in direct contact with the roads surface.

Wisconsin

The use of chains is allowed for safety when snow, ice, or other condition are present. If chains are used, they must not come in direct contact with the roads surface.

Wyoming

When the chain law is in effect due to snow, ice or other conditions, travel on a highway may be restricted to use only by motor vehicles utilizing adequate snow tires or tire chains. There are two levels.

Level 1: When conditions are hazardous, travel can be restricted to vehicles equipped with tire chains, vehicles with adequate snow tires, or all-wheel-drive vehicles.

Level 2: When conditions are extremely hazardous, travel can be restricted to vehicles equipped with tire chains or all-wheel-drive vehicles equipped with adequate mud and snow or all-weather-rated tires.

The operator of a commercial vehicle shall affix tire chains to at least two (2) of the drive wheels of the vehicle at opposite ends of the same drive axle when the vehicle is required to utilize tire chains under this subsection.

Any driver that is in violation will face a fine of no more than $250. If the violation results in the closure of all lanes in one or both directions of a highway, you will face a fine of no more than $750.