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Ask an Officer: Characters waving to drivers

3:42 PM, Apr. 18, 2013  |  Comments
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Question: Is it legal for costumed characters to be waving to traffic at busy intersections or near the business they are advertising? Is this considered to be a public nuisance and distracting to drivers?

Answer: The answer could be yes or no, depending on where the person is located and what they are doing. Also, many municipalities have specific ordinances that regulate advertising, temporary signs and obstructing public areas, such as sidewalks.

If the person was conducting their activities on private property owned by the business, yes, it typically would be be OK for them to stand there and conduct their activities.

If they were using a sidewalk or other public right-of-way then they would have to comply with ordinance requirements. Specifically, they are not allowed to obstruct or encumber any street, alley, sidewalk, public grounds or land dedicated to the public.

Also, if the person were carrying any type of sign, banner or advertising display and they were at a location where their activities were obstructing the view of an intersection or impeding safe traffic flow, a law enforcement officer may ask the person to move to a different location so as to ensure the safety of the drivers on the roadway.

A few city of Wausau ordinances that related to this topic are 12.44.020, 15.48.035, 15.48.120, and 15.48.350.

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