Interstate graffiti comes with a high price

Dear Mahatma: How do the graffiti punks paint on those big signs over the interstate without being killed? — NLR John

Dear John: Interesting question. We have personally never committed graffiti. Not that we can remember. Neither have we ever seen some death-defying fool do his thing while hanging over an interstate highway.

We do remember seeing some graffiti at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, where some fool scratched something dumb next to an ancient petroglyph.

Talk about a punk. And we don’t mean the ancient petroglyph guy.

We cast about to find someone who could explain the technique of graffiti punks. About all we got was a response from David Nilles, who speaks eloquently for the Arkansas Department of Transportation.

While ArDot can’t comment on graffiti technique, Nilles said, it can say that doing this kind of graffiti is extremely dangerous. It involves climbing to hard-to-reach places not meant to be accessed. Doing such a thing could result in serious injury or death.

But there’s more. Maintenance crews from ArDot have to repaint this stuff. That costs time and money.

Graffiti on state property is also illegal.

Here at the Traffic Desk we’re pretty good at legal research. (Seriously?) And our hourly fee is minimal. (That part is true.)

It appears the painting of graffiti would come under Arkansas Code Annotated 5-38-203, which describes criminal mischief.

Criminal mischief in the first degree is committed when someone “purposely and without legal justification destroys or causes damage to property of another …” The other in this case would be the people of Arkansas.

It’s a class A misdemeanor if the damage is valued at $1,000 or less. Damage of greater value could be a felony.

Nilles could not say specifically what it costs to clean or repaint graffiti on the agency’s property.

By the way, the word graffiti comes from the Italian graffito, “a scratch.”

Here at the Traffic desk, we strive to inform as well as entertain.

Dear Mahatma: Are fully electric cars more dangerous in a flood than gas-powered cars? — Villager

Dear Villager: We tried finding an answer from a reliable source, that being the website of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. No luck, so we’re not sure. Our readership might have some thoughts.

What we’re sure about is that anyone who buys a used vehicle that has been flooded, internal combustion or EV, is in for a bad time. Also that anyone who drives through a flooded street, especially one that’s barricaded, should not have done so.

Vanity plate: I SAW. This is a Game & Fish specialty plate. To the right of the letters is a beautiful illustration of an ivory-billed woodpecker. For those who came in late, this bird was considered extinct, then sighted in east Arkansas, but unfortunately not definitively found.

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