Hi All,

I have read with great interest, all of the articles on chaining up your vehicles, hummmm.

So here goes a cop’s side of the equation…Chains, cables, traction devices, pains in the butt, useless pieces of crap, revenue makers, whatever you want to call them, are a fact of law in California, deal with it! I can’t tell you how many times I have been told, “I’m from Colorado, and never needed chains there”, I look at the car/truck and see all four corners busted up, or, “I’m a good driver, I have front wheel drive, with new all season tires and my tire guy in San Francisco said that is all I need!”

O.K. Folks, here we go! Each chain control sign has 4 parts, in California, black on white, or white on black, is a law/command, period!

#1 Top part, “CHAINS REQUIRED” no matter what other conditions are added.



(ya still have to have chains, that fit your vehicle with you. Yes, Virginia we have the right to see them, and even inspect them for fit, and repair!)

#3 Speed, In most places, 25 MPH, in a few, 30 MPH.

#4 Bottom Part, Instructional, CARRY CHAINS, if they are not on the tires as required, they must be in the car as required.


Exceptions, If you are towing a trailer in R-1 conditions, you shall chain the tow vehicle on a driven axel. If your trailer has brakes, you shall, chain an axel with brakes. Do not disable the brakes, this will only get you a citation for doing that, and you still, shall chain the trailer.

If your vehicle has an unladen weight in excess of 6,500 pounds, you shall chain up in R-1 conditions.

The CHP and local Law Enforcement are really enforcing these laws due to quite a few unfortunate incidences.

If you are caught in a chain control area with out chains, you are subject to being towed (as by a tow truck) out of chain control at your own expense. This includes your trailer.

If you have an accident, when you should have chains on, and you do not, the chances are greatly increased that you will be found at fault in the accident. I suggest, (go ahead and hiss and boo now) that even trailers with out brakes have chains fitted and carried. Don’t you think that $15k of snowmobiles & a grand worth of trailer is worth some inconvenience on an icy day? The law? NO. Common sense, YES.

If your trailer is 80 inches wide, or more, you shall, carry a set of 3 truckers triangles, to be deployed if you break down on the road.

In California, open hooks on safety chains are illegal, any means of securing them are permissible.

Any safety equipment shall be in good working order, and in operation whenever the vehicle is in motion.

If your snowmobiles are not licensed in your state, you shall have a California “Non Resident Green Sticker” affixed to the snowmobile, to ride in this state. These are available through numerous outlets, motorcycle/snowmobile shops, retailers etc. $20.00 a year. Available in the S. Lake Tahoe area, Lake Tahoe Winter Sports, by the Bug Station. Michaels Cycles, in Carson City, Big Valley, Cope McPheters, and Michaels in Reno.

If you use a Sno-Park, you are required to have a permit…NO Exceptions.

Not all snow tires are created equal, look for a “self Cleaning” lug, with lots of edges, or “swipes” these help to grip the road, tall and skinny is the ideal snow tire. If you live in the mountains I recommend a set of studded tires, many of us have two sets of rims with “winter” & “summer” tires. Chains and cables, by their very design are self cleaning, the snow and ice are thrown off and out while the tire spins, this is the idea of a good snow tire. By the way, an “All Season” tire is not a “Snow Tire”, if you have a question about your tire, look at the side wall, If there is a M+S on the side wall then it’s a legal snow tire. Don’t be fooled by these things, M+S does not guarantee traction, use some common sense. If it looks like it won’t grip the snow it most likely will not, then there is the ice! Driving on ice is just UGLY!, chain up even if there is no one to tell you to, you are supposed to be a responsible adult…this is where your chains on the trailer without brakes come in, it is scary as heck going down Woodfords Canyon with your snowmobile trailer jack-knifed against your truck, (personal experience.)

IF YOU DECIDE, (nudge nudge, wink wink) to remove your chains, or not putting them on after going through a chain check point, you are subject to arrest/citation for Refusing to Obey a Lawful Order, a misdemeanor…that means a possibility of being booked…in JAIL.

I hope this little diatribe has been useful, if you have questions or comments feel free to contact me.

Tom Nagel