South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Regulations Controlling Billboard Size and Location Are Not Unconstitutional
Description Appeals court upheld the constitutionality of a state regulation that requires parties wishing to erect billboards along roadways to obtain permission from the state prior to construction. Such regulation advances a significant state interest and is content neutral.
Topic Constitutional Law
Key Words First Amendment; Billboards; Commercial Speech; Prior Restraint
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts The state of Florida issued a notice of violation to the owners of Café Erotica for their failure to obtain a permit to maintain an outdoor advertising sign along an interstate highway. The owners challenged the regulation as an unconstitutional prior restraint on speech. The district court rejected the argument and upheld the state requirement that billboards are subject to state permits. The owners appealed.
Decision

Affirmed. Regulations that restrict content-based speech are generally disfavored. A regulation that imposes a burden on speech without reference to the ideas expressed in the speech is generally content-neutral and, therefore, constitutional. Regulations restricting the size and spacing of billboards are legitimate prior restraints as they are content neutral. The regulations serve a substantial government interest in traffic safety and highway appearance by controlling the size and location of billboards.

Citation Café Erotica v. Florida Dept. of Transportation, --- So.2d --- (2002 WL 31373490, Ct. App., Fla., 2002)

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