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Is It Illegal to Strap a Christmas Tree to Your Car?

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on November 30, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

If we've learned anything from A Christmas Story, you find "the Christmas tree emporium of the Midwest," avoid the balsas, bargain like an Arab trader, and get the salesman to throw in some rope and tie it to your car for you. But police in Sudbury, Massachusetts pulled over a driver who may have taken that advice a little too far.

In that case, a single tree seemed to swallow a minivan whole. But how do you transport a Christmas tree, legally?


"Sudbury PD would like to remind you to transport your Holiday trees responsibly," the department's Facebook post admonished:

Fortunately for the family inside, the driver was only given a warning, in "the spirit of the holidays," according to Police Chief Scott Nix. In fact, the officer didn't even make the family trim the tree -- he apparently helped secure the tree more safely, even adding some caution tape.

"Make It More Manageable"

For those driving home without the aid of a law enforcement officer, has some additional pieces of advice for keeping Christmas tree transport safe and legal:

  • Get your Christmas tree netted before leaving the lot to make it more manageable. If it's going on the roof, the trunk should be facing front. Both will help reduce wind damage to the foliage.
  • Make sure to select a tree that will either fit inside your cargo area or, if you have a roof rack, on top of your roof properly. Also ensure that you have enough rope or cord to wrap around the tree and secure it to the roof rack or to cargo hooks.
  • Before leaving the lot, give the tree a good tug to make sure it's secure.
  • Drive slowly and avoid the highway, especially if you're not used to hauling heavy objects on your roof.

We should add that you should keep the windshield, side, and rear windows clear of any foliage -- most state traffic laws require full visibility of the car's surroundings.

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