Winter finally came, and snow certainly came with it! Whether you have been living for a long time in the same city or you have been jumping from different states, it may get difficult to be on track with all the different snow removal laws by state. 

If you are currently living in Iowa, let us help you clear the avalanche of doubts regarding what you must do with all that snow on your property. 

Does snow removal laws by state apply to the country? 


Due to the large size of the country, not all states share the same rules regarding snow removal in properties. At the end of the day, Hawaii citizens do not have the same necessities than people from Alaska in terms of snow removal-related issues. 

States like Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, and South Carolina do not have specified snow removal laws.  

On the other hand, there are no specific snow removal laws by state in Arkansas, Georgia, Ohio, and Tennessee. Nevertheless, the state encourages citizens to be responsible with their sidewalks and owners could be involved in legal problems if an accident is caused on their property due to poor snow management. 

In all the rest of the states you will find at least one snow removal law, and even within the same state, you may find some differences between cities and counties, so be sure to look at your location laws to avoid fines or penalties. 

How can I be up to date if snow removal laws by state vary so much?

Being on track of the snow removal law in your area may seem like a difficult task, but you can easily consult your state and city laws with a quick internet search. Snow removal laws by state will be stated on each state’s governmental webpage with contact information and links if you want to dig even further into information about your city or county. 

How do I know who should be removing the snow? 

Snow removal laws by state vary between different territories. In the state of Iowa, the city is responsible for plowing the driveways and clearing the streets, but not everything is in their hands! 

Everything regarding snow in your property like parking areas and sidewalks is your responsibility, and according to the State law the residents of the houses or proprietaries of private buildings like churches or businesses must remove snow from sidewalks after one inch of snow has fallen after a reasonable period. 

According to the snow removal law of Iowa available on the Iowa Code § 364.12, the city is responsible for public grounds, streets, public sidewalks (like the ones in parks and public buildings) alleys, bridges, over and underpasses, culverts, public ways, and commons. 

In the same Code, it is stated that property owners are responsible for cleaning the snow of their properties, and they may be liable for damages caused to a third by poor care in the removal of the snow or ice. 

Nevertheless, in the City of West Des Moines, you could receive help from the city to clean your sidewalk if you live in a medically verified low-income disabled household or if you are a 70+ year old person living in a low-income household. Just consider that there is only one employee assigned to this program, so you may not be guaranteed to have your snow removed on the 24 hours lapse after a storm. 

What can happen if I decide to not clean the snow in my property? 

Snow removal laws by state are no joke, and Iowa also takes this matter very seriously! Ice removal from your sidewalks is a must if you don’t want to get in unnecessary legal trouble. 

It may seem like not big of a problem if you decide to ignore the snow removal law in your area by not cleaning your sidewalk if you are not planning to go out in the week, but everything that happens within your property will be your responsibility. For example, if someone gets injured because of the snow on the sidewalk in front of your property all the legal actions and medical expenses will be on you! 

Letting a bit of snow on your front yard and sidewalk won’t hurt anyone, but the more you let the snow accumulate the harder it will be to take it out later, not to mention that it will start to become very slippery as ice will start to form beneath. 

Also, the constant freeze and melt process of ice can have a great impact on pavement and surfaces, because when water starts to freeze it will expand, and if it is in a small crack or inside a defect in the sidewalk it will cause the cracks to get bigger! 

What are the fines for not removing snow correctly in Iowa? 

Fees and penalties will vary depending on the snow removal laws by state, county, or even city, so be careful to be on track with what you can and cannot do so you won’t run out of money for gifts because you must pay snow fines. 

In Des Moines, since 2019, fines for not removing snow correctly were raised to $75 for first offenders and $100 for second offense, and it keeps increasing by $25 for subsequent violations being $175 the top amount. That’s a lot of money melting in your hands! 

In the City of Iowa, owners must remove the snow in a maximum of 48 hours after a storm. If they fail to do this, the city will send over a private contractor to shovel, but you will be charged the contractor costs plus a $100 administrative fee. It is much cheaper to hire the contractor yourself, isn’t it? 

Other cities in Iowa do not have specific snow removal laws, but this does not mean that there will be no penalties if you obstruct or hinder the free flow of traffic. Better safe than pay. 

Does the snow removal law apply if I live in a cul-de-sac? 

Snow removal laws by state will apply to everyone living within that area, and the city will be accountable of their duties in that state too. Unfortunately, if you live in a very narrow cul-de-sac, the city may not be so helpful as large trucks will not be able to plow the street. They may be able to get in but not to turn around to get out. 

An alternative that the city of Des Moines may offer is to use end loaders using blades and buckets to clean cul-de-sacs without the fear of never being able to get out without damaging the streets or your property. But you must consider that there are not enough end loader units for all the routes, and you may need to find a solution on your own to be able to drive your street 

Is it safe to remove the snow on my own? 

Snow removal is not an extreme sport, but you should not take it lightly. 

Take into consideration information like how your property is laid out to choose the right tools to clean the snow and consider using a snow blower or ice melt applications during freezing rainstorms to avoid slippery conditions. 

Snow removal could be a dangerous activity if performed incorrectly or carelessly. In 2012 there were more than 3 thousand snow removal-related emergencies reported, mainly back and shoulder injuries, frozen extremities, fatigue, and snow blowers’ incidents, so don’t forget to be careful and take enough breaks. 

Snow removal laws by state may vary a lot between different territories, but a constant rule will be to never move your snow to the street when trying to clean your property! This is a very dangerous practice because it can cause a lot of hazardous conditions in the street, where a lot of cars and people can be affected by accidents that could be easily avoided. 

Don’t forget to ask for help 

Information about snow removal laws by state should not take away your sleep. You may feel overwhelmed knowing that a snow removal law can be different from state to state, and even from city to city! But you are not alone on this journey. 

At All American Turf Beauty, we can help you ease your workload so you can forget about the snow removal law and focus on warming your feet and drinking hot chocolate. 

We can provide services like sidewalk and driveway snow removal, de-icing services, and street snow cleaning. 

If you want to schedule a consultation you can give us a call and we will be happy to guide you through the journey of finding the best service to comply with the snow removal law in Des Moines and its surroundings.