A Winnipeg man was slapped with a nearly $240 ticket for driving with too much snow on the roof of his van.

Jonathan McCullough said it took him a moment to realize a police officer was trying to pull him over as he drove on Bishop Grandin Boulevard on Friday on his way to a hockey rink.

"When I rolled down my window he asked me why did I have so much snow on my roof, and I didn't know what to say," McCullough said. "I was completely dumbfounded by his question."

McCullough said he had roughly seven to 10 centimetres of snow on the roof of his minivan — enough to earn him a ticket for operating a vehicle with an unsecured load worth $237.50.

McCullough said he's familiar with Manitoba law regarding unsecured loads on vehicles, but he didn't know the law applied to snow, too.

Now, he says he wishes the law was more specific.

"It's not specific to snow, so it's really hard to interpret. It makes sense for making sure that stuff doesn't fly off the vehicle, it's just, I never made the connection between snow and it being a load."

'Common sense' inclusion

Winnipeg police Const. Rob Carver says the rules on snow fall under the securement of vehicle loads portion of Manitoba's Highway Traffic Act.

The law says cargo transported by a vehicle must be "contained, covered, immobilized or secured" so it can't be dislodged from the vehicle or shift to the extent it adversely affects the vehicle's stability, although it doesn't mention snow specifically.

"It applies to anything on the vehicle that isn't actually part of the vehicle that could potentially fly off and cause a hazard for people behind you," Carver said of the law.

"It's been used for years regarding things that are attached to vehicles that pose a hazard. My understanding is it serves us to ensure vehicles are safe for various things that are attached or on them, including the leftover effects of a snowstorm. From a common sense standpoint it's part and parcel the same thing."

After a friend posted about his ticket on Facebook, McCullough said he's seen a flurry of comments criticizing either him or the law.

"There's no in between. They either think I'm an idiot for not cleaning it off and lazy, or they think that the law is stupid and that there wasn't really that much snow on it. I don't know what to think about that," he said.

McCullough said he will likely try to fight the ticket in court to get it reduced or dismissed.

Spreading awareness

McCullough said he doesn't think the public is well-educated on the law and wants people to know about his ticket so they don't get dinged, too.

"I got a ticket, and there's plenty of people out there who, if they got a ticket of this amount, probably couldn't afford it at this time of year. I want them to be aware that they should clean off their vehicle to make sure they can avoid it," he said.

"I don't think I've ever seen anything around that would alert people. You drive down the street you see [signs reading] 'Don't text and drive,' 'Watch for motorcyclists,' stuff like that. I've never seen something about cleaning off your vehicle in the winter so it's never even crossed my mind."

With files from Erin Brohman