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Signs Viking Dodge Loves to Hate

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois Topics:  Viking Dodge

Signs Viking Dodge Loves to Hate

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
October 28, 2007

Wayne was back in action today on U.S. 14 in Crystal Lake near Viking Dodge, even though Viking Dodge was closed.

During a short conversation with him he told me about a contact with Crystal Lake P.D. which he had recently regarding what they called “signs” on his car. Would you believe that THREE squad cars responded? Lettering on the side windows of Wayne’s Dodge Magnum informs readers to go to http://www.ripoffreport.com/ Did Viking Dodge sic the PD on him?

First of all, remember that Wayne once was a happy customer of Viking Dodge. He bought a new car from them, had it serviced there and tried to trade it in on another new car from them.

Recently Wayne was accused of violating the sign code of the City of Crystal Lake. Today he showed me a print-out of the “PORTABLE SIGN” and Prohibited Signs sections of Crystal Lake laws.

Decide for yourself whether Wayne was violating this law after you read the following:

“PORTABLE SIGN – A sign, usually of a temporary nature, designed to be moved easily and not permanently affixed to the ground or to a structure or building, including but not limited to signs designed to be transported by means of wheels; menu and sandwich board signs; umbrellas used for advertising; and signs attached to or painted on vehicles or trailers located for the primary purpose of displaying said signs, unless said vehicle is used in the normal day-to-day operations of the business.”

It’s easy to see that lettering on a personal passenger car is not included anywhere in the “Portable Sign” definition. It’s not temporary, not easily moved, not affixed to ground, structure or building, and not designed to be transported by wheels, such as on a trailer. It is not a menu/sandwich board sign or an umbrella.

Now maybe Crystal Lake P.D. thought they’d nab Wayne for a sign “attached to or painted on a vehicle", but consider this: his vehicle is not one for the primary purpose of the display of the lettering, and Wayne’s vehicle is not used in any business, much less one that is used in “normal day-to-day operations of the business.”

The print-out also included "§585-11 Prohibited Signs”, which is a list of signs that are “specifically and expressly prohibited to be placed, structurally or graphically alters, used, maintain, or relocated within the City (of Crystal Lake) unless otherwise provided for in this chapter.

The lettering on his vehicle windows (and even his previous large sign that he hung on the side of his car) does not fall under any of the prohibited signs listed in §585-11. While they might want to call it an “illegal” sign, nothing in the section makes it illegal. It’s interesting that they try to define a “prohibited sign” as an “illegal sign.” Looks like an endless loop to me.

So, was the Crystal Lake P.D. or Community Development right to address him with such force and authority as to intimidate him into covering the sign on the left side of his vehicle visible to passing traffic? The police and city officials must understand their laws and comply with them. The fact is that they don’t have a law that prohibits free speech, which is exactly what Wayne is engaged in.

I think Crystal Lake P.D. owes Wayne an apology. If I were Wayne, I’d put that big sign back up on the left side of his vehicle, because it too does not violate Crystal Lake law.

Furthermore, does the Crystal Lake P.D. enforce violations of the City Code, or is that up to the Code Enforcement Officer, leaving the police free to enforce violations of criminal and traffic codes?

Comments, anyone?

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