Wondering if the use of bumper stickers is illegal in some states? Stay on this page to find out what the law states about the use of bumper stickers.
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Here’s the Short Answer To Whether Bumper Stickers Are Illegal in Some States or Not:
The use of bumper stickers is legal in all US states. However, there are some certain restrictions regarding the captions or message stickers could contain.
As long as a bumper sticker does not contain profane or obscene words, and doesn’t affect a driver’s visibility, it’s okay to use them.
What Are the Rules that Guide the Use of Bumper Stickers?
While the use of bumper stickers is allowed in all US states, there are some rules that, however, go against the use of obscene or profane bumper stickers.
The following are some of the rules that guide the use of bumper stickers in some US states:
In Tennessee, the use “obscene or patently offensive bumper stickers” is prohibited. That means you might be prosecuted for using bumper stickers that promote pornographic content or contain clearly offensive statements.
Just like it is with the Tennessee law, an Alabama law also goes against the use of stickers that depict “obscene language of sexual or excretory activities”.
Note that ‘obscene language’ is a wide term. It could be any language that is offensive to the standards of decency and immorality. It could also be any form of lewd, disgusting or lustful remarks.
South Carolina’s Rulings
In a similar fashion, the use of indecent bumper stickers is also prohibited in South Carolina. In fact, as noted by mtsu.edu, you may be subjected to a fine of $200 for using an indecent bumper sticker in the state.
The Rules in Other States
Several other US states have similar rulings on the use of bumper stickers.
Mind you, because of the literary implications of languages, especially as it concerns polysemous meaning, it is not always easy to identify the caption of a sticker as offensive or obscene.
That is, a word may be offensive and still unoffensive at the same time, depending on the context or perspective at which it is looked at.
Besides, the American First Amendment Law protects some certain individuals on the use of language, as long as it’s not explicitly offensive.
Moreover, the various court cases experienced in Georgia and Alabama have made some US states relaxed their rulings on the use of offensive bumper stickers. However, the rules still stand in a few states, including Florida.
Aside from obscene or offensive contents, several other states also frown at the placement of bumper stickers on the front windshield, especially on the spots that obstruct the driver’s view.
Even some states prohibit the use of bumper stickers on the rear windshield if either of the rear side mirrors of your vehicle is not in place.
Learn more about this by checking out our post on 9 bumper stickers rules you must follow here.
What Bumper Stickers Are Illegal?
In spite of the rulings against the use of obscene and profane bumper stickers, it is hard to specifically state the bumper stickers that are illegal, in terms of caption. This is because of the literary implications of some seemingly offensive words.
That said, here are some bumper stickers that are illegal:
1. Explicitly Offensive Bumper Stickers
These are stickers that are obviously aimed at abusing a political figure, a group of people, or a society. These stickers are capable of inciting fear and terror, as they could cause social unrest.
You might have seen some stickers abusing a notable personality or stereotyping a group of people. Such stickers could be in the form of:
- Hate speech
- Racism or sexism
- Religious violence
- Gender violence
These kinds of stickers that are typically illegal.
2. Obscene or Pornographic Stickers
Aside from the unpleasant appearance of obscene or pornographic contents, these stickers have also been proven to likely cause molestations or sexual abuse to its users.
You might easily get labeled as a lewd person and get some unpleasant advances from unexpected people because your vehicle wears some pornographic stickers. Make sure you read about what bumper stickers really say about you.
Be that as it may, obscene or pornographic bumper stickers are also illegal in some states.
3. Distractive or Obstructive Stickers
Also, bumper stickers that are obviously distractive or that could obstruct the views of the driver are also prohibited in many US states. This is because of the risks that such stickers could cause on the road, not only to the driver, but to other motorists.
That said, learn about 5 best places you can put bumper stickers on your vehicle here.
What Kind of Stickers Can You Put on Your Car?
You can actually put any bumper sticker on your car as long as it is not offensive, obscene or meant for advertising. Note that advertising bumper stickers are only restricted for use in some states; they are not all illegal.
That said, here are the best bumper stickers you can use on your vehicle:
1. Generic stickers
These are those stickers that are free of political, social, or advertising concepts. It could be those oval stickers that reveal a vehicle’s country of origin, or the ones that just showcase your nickname.
2. Stickers With Religious Themes
These are the bumper stickers that are only used to promote religious values and morals. They could be the WWJD or the WWFD stickers.
You might want to check what the TOLERANCE bumper sticker means.
3. Stickers that Promote Vehicle’s Security
These stickers are only used to scare away thieves, who could think of stealing your vehicles. Of course, there are some bumper stickers designed to prevent car theft.
Notable amongst such stickers are those with the caption “Warning: GPS Alarm System Equipped”.
4. Bumper Stickers that Give Positive Encouragement
There are a few other bumper stickers which are aimed at awakening good attitude and behaviors. These stickers are not religious in whatever way, but they are highly inspirational. Some notable examples include:
- You’re Someone’s Reason To Smile
- Be the Reason Someone Smiles Today
- Forget the Mistake, Remember the Lesson
- Live, Laugh, Love
These stickers often feature notable inspirational quotes, and quite a few ones have used some famous quotes of Martin Luther King Jnr.
You’ll agree that using these kinds of stickers would not subject you to any form of legalities or illegalities. This is because they contain simple captions or texts that could hardly call for any social or political concern.
Can I Put Advertising Bumper Stickers on My Vehicle?
You should also note that some stickers which are obviously used to advertise some products or services could be prohibited to use by some drivers in some states.
This is because some states have some vehicle signage laws that restrict people, and even business owners, from advertising on their vehicle.
At least, this is applicable in five California states.
Mind you, some states, like New York, allows people to advertise on their vehicles, as long as they’ve registered the vehicle for commercial use.
In short, it is best to know what’s applicable in your state before you use advertising bumper stickers on your vehicle.