BAXTER, Minn. -- The Minnesota Department of Transportation
reminds citizens that state law prohibits the placement of unauthorized
signs and other objects on state highway right of way.
"With the warm weather months beginning, there is a significant
increase of advertising signs and items for sale placed illegally
along the states roadways with the sole purpose of attracting the
attention of passing motorists," said Mark Renn, MnDOT's roadway
regulations supervisor in St. Cloud.
Encroachment of highway right of way is a misdemeanor violation
punishable by a maximum $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail. State
law also says that signs and other items may not be placed on private
property outside of the right of way limits but in proximity to
a roadway without the expressed consent of the landowner.
"Illegally placed signs and objects on the roadway can restrict
the visibility of drivers in many situations, especially at intersections,
and divert the persons attention away from their primary task of
operating a motor vehicle safely," adds Ken Larson, MnDOT's
roadway regulations supervisor in the Baxter.
MnDOT crews will remove all signs within the right of way without
notice. This procedure is done in an impartial manner so that all
sign removals are treated equally, whether they are political, business,
non-profit organization or private citizen.
The sign may be held for five working days, usually at the nearest
maintenance truck station, and then discarded.
With large objects that cannot be easily removed, MnDOT roadway
regulations specialists may issue a written "Notice of Violation"
to the party responsible for encroachment on highway right of way.
The notice requires them to remove the item within a specific time
frame or receive a citation.
Unauthorized signs appear in all shapes and sizes and run the gamut
from real estate open houses to garage sales, and various public
and private events and activities. Larger and more dangerous objects
that are often placed illegally in the right of way include automobiles
and other motorized vehicles, boats and motors, campers and travel
trailers, produce and fireworks stands, and large round hay bales.
In addition to the safety factors, all of these objects catch debris, inhibit
proper drainage, restrict mowing, spraying and other road maintenance
activities, and create visual pollution.
The larger objects are extremely hazardous if a vehicle runs off
the road and strikes it, causing injury or death to the occupants
as well as property damage. Civil liability is usually extended
to the person or party who created the safety hazard by unlawfully
placing the unauthorized sign or other item on the highway right
of way. The responsible party may be sued for damages.
For information regarding roadway regulations, right of way boundaries,
or where to find removed materials, please contact Mark Renn at
the MnDOT office in St. Cloud at 320-223-6522, toll free 1-800-657-3961;
or Ken Larson in Baxter at 218-828-5777 or toll free at 1-800-657-3971.