Posting unauthorized signs along state highways is illegal. The Georgia Department of Transportation removes thousands of signs like these in an election year. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/
Photo: Bob Andres/

Get ready for roadside campaign signs - legal or not

Here’s a scary thought for Halloween: Though it seems like candidates have been campaigning for eternity, the 2020 general election is still a year away. And with Georgia now officially a swing state and getting more attention than usual, you can expect a proliferation of campaign signs across the state in coming months.

But the Georgia Department of Transportation has a timely message: Posting unauthorized signs along state highways is illegal. 

Political, yard sale, real estate and other signs – the message doesn’t matter. You must get a permit to post a sign in the public right of way along a state highway or interstate. Violation of the law is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or 12 months in jail. 

“Unauthorized signs can create safety hazards by distracting drivers and obstructing their view,” the agency said in a statement released Wednesday. “During inclement weather signs can also cause debris that clogs drainage systems.” 

GDOT maintenance crews often remove roadside signs – a practice that has come under fire by partisans who protest the removal of their candidate’s campaign signs. The agency says it enforces the law without favor or partisanship. 

Workers take the signs to a GDOT district headquarters, where they’re held for 30 days, giving the owners a chance to reclaim them. If the signs are not claimed, they’re destroyed. 

GDOT says it removes thousands of signs across the state during an election year. But there are so many it’s hard to get them all. So as election season heats up, expect to see plenty of illegal signs cluttering the roadside and maybe blocking your view as you’re trying to inch out into traffic. 

Happy Halloween.

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About the Author

David Wickert
David Wickert
David Wickert writes about transportation issues for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He previously worked for newspapers in Washington state, Illinois...