News Release: Georgia Department of Transportation
TIFTON, Ga. – Georgia Department of Transportation maintenance workers recently dispatched to repair a flattened stop sign at state Routes 133 and 112 in Worth County found another problem at the intersection – illegally placed political signs.
They uprooted the signs and set about restoring the stop sign to its upright position. Georgia DOT maintenance employees expect the number of signs to increase as elections near.
“We don’t allow any kind of illegal encroachment on our right of way,” Southwest District Maintenance Engineer Stacy Aultman said.
Signs on the state highway system must be approved and permitted to be placed on the right of way. The state highway system includes interstates and state routes. Signs that advertise yard sales, real estate and/or political candidates are examples of signs that are prohibited.
Georgia Code 32-6-51 states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to erect, place or maintain within the right of way of any public road any sign, signal or other device except as authorized by subsection (d) of this Code section.” Violation is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or 12 months in jail.
That often doesn’t stop politicians or their campaign representatives from placing signs where they are prohibited.
“Normally we have several hundred signs that we pick up. We take them back to our headquarters and give the owners an opportunity to reclaim them,” Thomas Avery, assistant area engineer for maintenance in Donalsonville, said.
Signs can create a safety hazard because they can distract drivers and interfere with their line of sight, Aultman and Avery said.
The depth of the right of way depends on the route. If there are power poles on the right of way, the edge is usually behind the poles, Avery said. However, check with your local DOT office for guidance if you aren’t sure where signs are allowed on a particular route. Signs removed by GDOT will be held for 30 days before disposal.