What Happens If I Got a Ticket Because a Road Sign Wasn’t Visible?

We’ve all seen it before: an overgrown tree envelopes a road sign, graffiti covers another, and another sign is bent over or missing for any of many possible reasons.

Road signs convey extremely important information about the conditions of the road coming up and how drivers should behave on them. When they’re obscured by any of the ways mentioned above, however, that information can be lost upon drivers, who may get ticketed as a result.

Nowhere in New York’s traffic codes will you see an obscured road sign as a reason to get out of a traffic ticket, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If you have photographic evidence of how the sign was obscured from your vantage point as a driver, you could successfully convince a judge that you had no way of knowing that you were supposed to take or refrain from taking a certain action.

Still, there are two important caveats to using an obscured road sign as a defense:

  • Default Speed Limits: In many parts of New York, there are default speed limits. For example, many school zones have speed limits set at 15 mph. If you are ticketed for your speed in a place where there is a default speed limit, you may not be successful if you attempt to argue that you couldn’t see a speed limit sign.
  • Posting Requirements: Not all cities and neighborhoods in New York share the same ordinances that govern the conditions for posting road signs. If you were ticketed in an area that requires trees and shrubs to be cut back to avoid growing over a sign, you should mention that if you are arguing that you violated the law because you couldn’t see the sign.

Arguing a Lack of Visibility in Court

If you intend to argue that you received a ticket because a road sign you would have noticed and obeyed was obscured in some way, the best thing to do is hire an attorney. This is not an easy argument to make in court, especially when judges commonly get this defense from violators with weak cases.

An attorney can help you to thoroughly document the scene where the obscured sign is posted and arrange other evidence that demonstrates that you had no way of knowing you were violating the law. There’s a lot more that a traffic law attorney like ours at Stites Law can do for you, so if you’re interested in learning more, reach out to us today!

Contact Stites Law online to arrange a consultation with an experienced traffic law attorney.