Roadside Advertising Signs 

 
Roadside Advertising Facts at a Glance
  • Small portable advertising signs that sometimes pop up along our roadways are dangerous and unsightly.

  • It is illegal under state law to place signs in the right-of-way of roads.

  • The County is empowered to take action on illegal roadside signs by removing them and prosecuting violators.

  • Click here for guidelines on neighborhood yard sale signs.

  • Each sign may result in a fine of $100.

 
    Advertising Signs in the Roadway Are Illegal and Harmful
 
It is illegal under state law to place signs in the right-of-way of roads. These signs pose a safety problem for drivers and pedestrians.  Signs distract motorists, create blind spots, and present hazards for maintenance crews.  The nails, screws and tacks used to place signs on utility poles are hazards for utility workers.  In addition to the safety issue, the signs detract from the appearance of our roadways making the County and our neighborhoods look trashy.
 
The Code of Virginia authorized the Department of Transportation to enter into agreements with local governments and Prince William entered into an agreement in 2000 with VDOT to remove signs and prosecute violations of the statute.   
 
View the State statute regarding signs in the VDOT right of way HERE.                                                         

 

Examples of illegal signs include:

IllegalSign1.jpg  IllegalSign7.jpg

Some Signs Out of the Roadway on Private Property Are Legal Subject to Certain Restrictions.

Signs are allowed on residential properties, but there are restrictions on the size, location, number of signs and, in certain instances, the length of time signs can be posted. A permit may also be required in some cases.   
 
 Examples of legal signs via permit include:
 
AllowedWPermit1.jpg  AllowedWPermit2.jpg
* For example, home-based business with permitted signage on private property allowed by permit only.
 
Guidelines for sign placement can be accessed at the Zoning Office’s webpage, “Signs.”   
 
Other things to know about signs outside of the VDOT right of way include the following:
 
  • Businesses may have permits approved by County Zoning to have signs for their business. 
  • Residential property owners are allowed to have 1' by 1' (or 1 foot x 2 feet) 'for sale' signs in their yards when selling their home. 
  • Political campaign signs are allowed but may not be posted earlier than 90 days before an election and must be removed five days after the election. There are also restrictions on the number of signs allowed on individual properties based on linear feet of street frontage.          

Check the County Zoning Ordinance for these guidelines, or call Neighborhood Services for clarification.

 

Signs are allowed on residential properties, but there are restrictions on the size, location, numbers of signs and, in certain instances, the length of time signs can be posted. A permit may also be required in some cases.   

Guidelines for sign placement can be accessed at the County Zoning Ordinance website (click HERE and search "Signs"). 

Other things to know about signs outside of the VDOT Right of Way include the following:

 

IMPORTANT: No signs, either commercial or political, are permitted in the VDOT right of way.  Those placing signs in the right of way are acting illegally and endangering their safety and the safety of residents .  

Removing the Signs: Where is the VDOT Right of Way vs. Private Property Where Some Signs May Be Permitted?

The law restricting signs in the Right of Way applies to any sign regardless of content placed in the public roadway area whether stuck in the ground on a wooden stake or wire frame, placed on a traffic sign,  tacked on utility poles, or nailed to fences and other standing fixtures. 
 
The 'right-of-way' is the area including the traffic lanes and medians and the areas between the edge of the road (which is controlled by VDOT in most cases) and the property line adjacent.  The right-of-way can vary from road to road.  In almost every case, areas between sidewalks and the pavement in roadway areas are part of the "VDOT Right of Way." 
 
By working with residents, businesses and citizen volunteers, we are making progress. In FY 2012, the Litter Crew picked up 21,638 signs. Each of these illegal signs carries a civil penalty of $100 plus court costs and people who place these illegal signs in the right-of-way are also subject to fines.  Last year, Property Code Enforcement Inspectors issued 203 summonses on 453 illegally placed roadside advertising signs.
 
How Citizens Can Help  
     1.       If signs are placed on your property without your permission, you have the right to remove the sign and 
           dispose of it.
     2.   If you'd like to get involved by removing illegal roadway advertising signs, contact Neighborhood Services
           at nsd@pwcgov.org.  For more information on how you can safely remove signs in your community  
           click here for program details. 
     3.     Citizens can participate in Keep Prince William Beautiful Adopt-A-Spot program to clean up trash
           including signs.  These areas are cleaned at least nine times throughout the year.  
           Call the Keep Prince William Beautiful (formerly the PW Clean Community Council) for more 
           information about these and other KPWB programs at 571-285-3772.
     4.      Citizens can inform neighbors, organizations and merchants that it is illegal to place signs in the
           right-of-way.  Many simply do not know it is illegal and that there could be fines if they do not remove
           the signs.  
     5.      Please report any violations to Neighborhood Services at 703-792-7018.