Digital Signs and Billboards: Crafting and Enforcing Local Regulations

Siting Issues, Environmental Concerns, and Revenue Sharing Opportunities

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926
Course Materials

This CLE course will discuss the constitutional basis and limits of local regulation of signs and billboards--digital or otherwise--as well as signage zoning laws related to everything from noise to strip clubs.


The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert remains the cornerstone of sign ordinance jurisprudence: sign displays are speech protected by the First Amendment. Several Justices, however, wrote concurring opinions itemizing what they considered permissible limits under the majority's opinion. Some lower and state courts have followed those guidelines while others have ignored them as non-binding.

At the same time, businesses and billboard companies have sought to expand the use of digital signs, which raises a host of issues related to safety and aesthetics. Opposition persists from environmental and scenic preservation groups, as well as traffic and safety organizations.

Counsel to local governments, businesses, traffic safety, and environmental organizations must be aware of the evolving trends in sign law and develop effective strategies for confronting the legal issues. Recent federal court cases finding state statutes unconstitutional include: Thomas v. Bright, Comm'r of Tenn. Dep't of Transp., (6th Cir. No. 17-6238, Sept. 11, 2019); Adams Outdoor Advertising v. Pennsylvania Dep't of Transp., (3d Cir. No. 18-2409, July 15, 2019); L.D. Mgmt. Co. v. Thomas, (W.D. Ky. Apr. 24, 2020).

Listen as Andrew T. Fede, Partner at Archer, analyzes the legal implications of sign ordinances and policies, examines the latest research findings, and outlines best practices for regulating signs and billboards. The panel will discuss relevant court decisions and their implications for digital and traditional signs and billboards.



  1. Regulatory framework for regulating signs and billboards
  2. Contemporary signage technology and legal considerations
  3. Discussion of relevant case law
  4. Policymaking considerations for regulating digital signs and electronic billboards
    1. On private property
    2. On public property
    3. Revenue sharing opportunities
    4. Environmental concerns
  5. Best practices for regulating dynamic signs and billboards
    1. Complete ban
    2. Limits on text size, brightness, motion
    3. Duration rules: limiting the time of display
    4. Placement of signs
    5. Different regulations depending on the zoning district
  6. Applications of Reed to other types of law


The panelist will review these and other high priority issues:

  • What types of speech face strict and intermediate scrutiny?
  • If you have to "read it to regulate it," is the ordinance unconstitutional?
  • When is signage content neutral?
  • Does the off-site/onsite distinction still matter?
  • What are the alleged safety and environmental risks of digital signs and billboards?
  • How has Reed been applied to ordinances other than those regulating signage?


Fede, Andrew
Andrew T. Fede


Mr. Fede has more than 30 years of legal experience practicing in Hackensack, New Jersey. His practice areas including...  |  Read More

Access Anytime, Anywhere

A savings of $148

Strafford will process CLE credit for one person on each recording. All formats include course handouts.

To find out which recorded format will provide the best CLE option, select your state:

CLE On-Demand Video