General Question

intro24's avatar

Are there any legal restrictions against me holding a sign along the road?

Asked by intro24 (1399 points ) August 24th, 2011

So I have some friends going back to their first day of school tomorrow morning and I’d like to hold up signs along the road, near but not on school property so the kids in the buses can see. Nothing inappropriate, just fun signs. I live in Pennsylvania and the school is in a rural area. I’m not concerned with getting in trouble as much as I am knowing my rights. If anybody has insight it’d be greatly appreciated. Thanks guys

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16 Answers

MissAnthrope's avatar

I would think that as long as your signs aren’t inappropriate or offensive, you’re covered by the First Amendment. The only trouble I could imagine you getting in would be, say, trespassing or the like.. probably most people wouldn’t care, either, but that and having offensive messages on your sign are the only two things I can think of.

Afos22's avatar

Its extremely sad that you should have to ask this question. It seems like we don’t have rights anymore. The First Amendment gives you the freedom of expression. Which means, you can hold a sign that says anything. Although, you rights can easily be violated by the law now-a-days. Ron Paul 2012 for liberty

intro24's avatar

Haha true, Afos. I was wondering if maybe there was some weird circumstance that made this a no-no

intro24's avatar

Like for example if I can be not really on the road but not really on school property either. Essentially the curb. And as kind of a side note, kind of a relevant note I heard once that land between the road and telephone poles is not technically owned by the property owner. Any take on that?

YARNLADY's avatar

Each government has it’s own rules. You can check with the county, state and city.

Afos22's avatar

@YARNLADY thats what hes trying to do.
@intro24 Now that I think about it, stay out of the road. The police might try to get you for “distracting drivers” or something along those lines. Id say stay on the sidewalk if you’re going to do it.

CunningLinguist's avatar

@Afos22 The First Amendment has never said that you can put anything onto a sign or into a speech. You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater, for instance, and you can’t incite violence. Moreover, the question is about what could get someone in trouble. That concerns more than merely the content of the signs. As noted by @MissAnthrope, property rights—one of Ron Paul’s favorite subjects—are also involved.

But hey, we wouldn’t want to get in the way of you posting your cult spam.

CWOTUS's avatar

Obviously you can’t display signs that are recklessly provocative, incite people to violence, or which contain false “warnings” of pending catastrophes. For example, holding up a sign (even if there’s no bridge on the road) saying “Bridge Out” could cause panic among drivers unfamiliar with the road, and could lead to traffic accidents – even fatalities.

Holding signs that are libelous (or slanderous, I forget exactly which is which) could get you sued.

It would be dangerous to display signs that distract drivers for more than a second or two. So signs with large blocks of text, or which take concentration to understand the meaning, or which lure drivers’ eyes for more than a couple of seconds, could cause inattention to the road, and problems.

You have to be concerned about where you display the signs, and be certain that you have a right to be there. You can’t post “Yard Sale” signs on your neighbor’s lawn without your neighbor’s permission, for example.

But if you want an example of signs that are clever, humorous, not overly distracting to drivers, and even “deliver a message”, check out Burma Shave images and see what ideas you get.

intro24's avatar

Thanks guys. It went great. Except I haven’t slept in a solid day. Goodnight, all.

john65pennington's avatar

You will be okay, as long as your sign does not block the vision of traffic and you are not blocking the public sidewalk. And, you stay out of the street.

Go for it.

Judi's avatar

It’s freedom of speech! I was in the Vagina Monologues and we did a protest against rape and you should have seen the people yelling at us, threatening to call the police. I couldn’t believe how many people didn’t understand that the freedom to stand on a street corner with a sign, in protest or in praise, is one of the sacred liberties our founding fathers, fought and died for. I am sad that more Americans don’t use their voice.

JustJessica's avatar

Do it! Call the local news and let them know you’re doing it as well. Get everyone involved. Make it a going back to school day they will never forget!

Sunny2's avatar

I think the only objection to be made is that it could be a distraction for drivers. But that could be argued, because there are all kinds of billboards and signs along almost any route to distract a driver. Different states have laws about that, so where you are could have a law. A one day, welcome back to school signs shouldn’t be a problem anywhere, I would think.
I’m glad it went well. Now sleep in peace.

Afos22's avatar

@CunningLinguist I never stated that he can say anything, nor is it true that one cant yell “fire” in a theater or any other establishment. If the building is in fact on fire, one may be obligated to yell “fire”. In addition, if @intro24 was going to hold up signs “along the road” in a “rural area” there would hardly be concern about property rights. The sidewalk is public domain. Finally, I am not quite sure how to take your last statement. You and your friends would never get in the way of my “cult”, nor have I ever posted “spam”, which is an unsolicited message sent to a large number of people or sent in large numbers.

CunningLinguist's avatar

@Afos22 Here is a direct quote from your post:

“The First Amendment gives you the freedom of expression. Which means, you can hold a sign that says anything.”

So unless you are speaking in some highly elaborate code, you said exactly what I portrayed you as saying. I’m glad to see that you understand why what I said was correct, but let’s not pretend that you didn’t say exactly what your own post reveals you as having said.

As for property rights, the issue is where along the road one stands. One is not allowed to stand in the road, so one must be careful not to be standing on private property that is near the road. In all likelihood, no one would complain. But the question is about what could get someone into trouble.

As for your cult spam, I was referring to your entirely off-topic reference to a certain candidate running for the Republican presidential nomination. Tagging everything with even the slightest relation to politics this way is most certainly a form of spam, and one common among the members of your particular cult.

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