Scenic America Newsletter
HomeBlogArizona Court of Appeals rules digital billboards illegal

Arizona Court of Appeals rules digital billboards illegal

E-mail Print PDF
The Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled that digital billboards along state and federal highways are illegal because they violate the state's ban on intermittent light.

The case pitted Scenic Arizona and the Neighborhood Coalition of Greater Phoenix, Inc. against American Outdoor Advertising, Inc. (AOA) and the City of Phoenix Board of Adjustment over permits issued for electronic billboards.  Scenic America filed an amicus brief in the case.

digital_bb_Sarasota_FloridaThe ruling is significant in several ways, namely because the Court affirms the common definition of what intermittent lighting is.  The argument for whether digital billboards are legal hinges on the fact that billboards with flashing, intermittent or moving lights are banned under the Federal Highway Beautification Act and many state laws, such as Arizona's own Highway Beautification Act.

American Outdoor argued that the lighting on the signs is constant and that the change of message constitutes a change in "copy."  However, the Court said "What American Outdoor calls a change of 'copy' is actually a transition from one lighted image to the next lighted image." 

"Because the combination of LEDs used to display each brightly lit image on the billboard changes every eight seconds, the billboard's lighting necessarily is intermittent," the ruling said.

Click here for more background on this case and to read Scenic America's amicus brief.