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The Laws for Snow Tires in Colorado

Colorado is known for its Rocky Mountains, sunshine and snow. The weather in Colorado can change dramatically, quickly going from clear skies to a blizzard in a matter of hours. Because of the heavy snowfall, especially in the winter, there are times in which laws involving snow tires and chains law will go into effect. According to the Tire Chains website, "Colorado chain law applies to every state highway, federal highway and interstate throughout the state." When the chain law goes into effect, signs will be posted to warn drivers that snow tires or chains need to be put on their vehicles.

Chains or Snow Tires

Level 1 of the tire chain law requires drivers to equip their cars with snow tires. A driver may put chains on his tires, but is not required during Level 1. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, "Level 1 may be implemented at any time there is snow cover on any part of the traveled portion of pavement on an ascending grade." Snow tires must have an all-weather rating on the tire and have a minimum tread depth of 1/8 inch. Level 1 also included single drive axle combination commercial vehicles.

Chains Only

Level 2 of the tire chain law requires that vehicles use steel-link chains on their tires. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, "metal chains must consist of two circular metal loops, one on each side of the tire, connected by not less than nine evenly spaced chains across the tread." Level 2 is to protect drivers on snowy roads and to reduce the number of snow-closed roads. This level also includes all commercial vehicles.


Vehicles are required to carry chains between Sept. 1 and May 31 between the mileposts 163 and 259 on Interstate 70. If chains are not carried in the vehicle, the driver may be fined $50, plus a $17 surcharge. If a driver does not follow these laws while Level 1 or Level 2 are in effect, they may be fined $500, plus a $157 surcharge. A driver will also be fined $1,000, plus a $313 surcharge, if failure to chain the vehicle results in blocking the highway.
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