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Interferance with traffic control devices

June 19, 2010
By Dave Werner, Franklin County Traffic Safety Board

Have you ever felt like celebrating or being mischievous by writing on a stop sign or similar? Don't! You could be in for a minimum of $150 fine and/or 15 days in jail. Article 1115 of New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law prohibits anyone from altering, defacing, knocking down, covering, removing or otherwise interfering with any official traffic control device, including signs, signals, or pavement markings.

To "deface" shall include damage, destroy, disfigure, erase, ruin, distort, spoil or otherwise change the appearance of an object by the use of chalk, crayon, paint, stain, ink or other similar material.

Article 1115 also prohibits defacing any railroad signs or signals, any bridge or similar structure, any monument, lamppost, telephone pole, fence, walk, curb, tree, or anything else on a highway right-of-way. In short, doing anything to any traffic control or railroad sign that in any way disfigures or damages it is illegal.

Some rather common violations of this law might include a high school or college class painting their graduating year on a traffic sign, or an unlucky hunter shooting up a rural road sign. We have all seen examples such as these. Not only can defacing a traffic control device be dangerous, but it costs time and money to clean a defaced sign or worse yet, to replace one. And think of what could happen if, for example, a stop sign was removed and an unsuspecting motorist drove through that intersection and was hit by another vehicle that wasn't required to stop?

So, find another outlet for your emotions and leave traffic control devices alone.

This and all previous Did You Know articles can be found from the pull down department menu on the Franklin County Traffic Safety Board's web site at

Dave Werner can be reached at



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