Posting Political Signs within Nevada’s State Highway Right of Ways
It is illegal to post campaign signs within the right-of-way of state highways. Like many other states, it can be a challenge to identify what roads are under Nevada DOT control and which are local or federal roads, which have a different set of regulations to abide by. State highways include not only the well numbered rural routes but many country roads and city streets. If you have a question about the right of way for state highways, NDOT recommends calling your local district office. In Clark County call the District I Office in Las Vegas at (702) 385-6540, in Tonopah call (775) 482-2300, in northwestern Nevada call the District II Office in Sparks at (775) 834-8300, in Winnemucca call (775) 623-8000, in northeastern Nevada call the District III Office in Elko at (775) 777-2700, and in Ely call (775) 289-1700.
Once you have identified that the road is a state road, you campaign must follow the regulations established in Nevada’s state code, namely:
- Political signs should not be a distraction to drivers. Be careful where you put signs in intersections and elsewhere, so you do not cause accidents. Also, don’t place signs in a way that blocks the view of oncoming traffic.
- Your sign cannot resemble official traffic signs.
- From NDOT, “Political signs erected on private property that is adjacent to a state highway may be erected no more than 60 days before a primary election and must be removed within 30 days after the primary election. Signs for candidates or questions appearing on the general election ballot do not have to be removed until 30 days after the general election.”
- Political campaign signs adjacent to and within 660 feet of any state highway must meet federal requirements. For yard signs or any other 4′ x 8′ or smaller sign there is no need for a permit unlike larger signs.
Apart from state requirements, local governmental agencies can and do have varying criteria regarding placement of political signs on city and county roads. These local restrictions vary greatly among the various entities and must be checked locally.
Sample County Political Signs Requirements
Each county in Nevada has its own yard sign rules to follow. Some counties may not be any more stringent than the Nevada state regulations, but many counties have additional restrictions that you need to consider depending upon what county or counties that you are running for elected office in.
Douglas County, for example, has a number of other restrictions:
- Campaigns are prohibited from posting signs on telephone polls or other traffic control posts.
- You cannot post a political sign along the county right of way.
- It is against the law to place a sign on private property without the property owner’s consent.
- Campaign signs mustn’t obstruct the view of pedestrians or driving traffic.
- Signs must be removed seven days following an election.
NDOT Political Sign Brochure
In addition to this blog post, the Nevada Department of Transportation has put together a handy brochure that summarizes the regulations and NDOT’s enforcement of law related to political signs, which as defined by NDOT, are “any temporary or portable display or device advertising for or against a candidate for public office or a political party or political point of view.”
Consequences for Violating Nevada’s Sign Regulations
Depending upon whether the state road is in the middle of town, in the country, has a sidewalk, has NDOT facilities built along the road, etc. it can be difficult to know where exactly the state has right of way. If you have any questions about where Nevada’s right of way starts and ends, your best option is to give Nevada Department of Transportation’s Right of Way Division a call. In northern Nevada, (775) 888-7480 and in southern Nevada, (702) 385-6540
If you violate any of Nevada’s regulations for political signs, NDOT employees will remove your campaign’s signs and hold them at the nearest maintenance station. Campaigns can collect the signs from the NDOT maintenance station within thirty days of their removal. After thirty days, NDOT will dispose of the signs.
Unlike many other states, candidates are not assessed fines or fees from the Department of Transportation for the cost associated with removing and holding the signs or penalties for violating the state’s regulation. In fact, NDOT explicitly states that their employees will try to remove the signs without damaging them, which is rarely the case elsewhere. Of course, this is no excuse not to violate the state’s regulations because while the Department of Transportation may be forgiving, your opponent or the local newspaper may not be!