Court Rules That Chalking Tires Is An Unconstitutional Search

A federal appeals court ruled Monday that chalking tires for parking enforcement violates the Fourth Amendment.

Cincinnati, OH – A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that chalking tires to identify parking infractions was a violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Parking enforcement officers in some cities regularly place chalk marks on the tires of vehicles parked in limited-time parking spaces on city streets to help identify whether those vehicles have overstayed their time.

After receiving her 15th parking citation resulting from chalked tires, Alison Taylor brought suit against the city of Saginaw, Michigan, and alleged the chalking was unconstitutional, WAMU reported.

“Trespassing upon a privately-owned vehicle parked on a public street to place a chalk mark to begin gathering information to ultimately impose a government sanction is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment,” Taylor’s lawsuit alleged.

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which consists of a three-judge panel, unanimously agreed with Taylor’s argument, according to WAMU.

The decision effectively bans the chalking of tires in the states of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.

The Fourth Amendment guarantees citizens protection from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Judge Bernice Donald wrote in the court’s ruling that chalking tires is a form of trespass and requires a warrant, WAMU reported.

The court ruled that chalking can be considered a “search” for the purposes of the Fourth Amendment because it requires the government to physically trespass on the person’s property.

They said that, similar to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling that said a warrant was needed to place a GPS tracking device on a vehicle, the same was required to place a chalk mark on a vehicle for parking enforcement, WAMU reported.

Law professor Orin Kerr warned serial parking violators not to begin celebrating too soon because modern technology makes the need for chalk marks obsolete, WAMU reported.

Kerr said parking enforcement officers could simply take pictures of vehicles that they’re timing in the future.

“That way parking enforcement can learn the placement of the car [without] physically marking it,” he said.

There are already several apps available that facilitate virtual chalking of tires.

Comments (34)
No. 1-15
BlueLM101
BlueLM101

I'm going to take a, probably, unpopular stance on this and say that it should be legal. It's no different than buying a parking pass and displaying it in your windshield. The idea is the promote compliance. The places are probably designated for 1-3 hour parking. So other people can access places of business and to make sure employees aren't taking up spaces. It's no like the police are taking inventory on the inside of a vehicle. Besides, driving is a privilege, not a right.

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

What would a police officer do if I chalked a tire of her vehicle while it was parked and unattended on public property? Let me go about my business without a confrontation? Question me? Arrest me? If I knew the answer to those questions then I would know better how to feel about this.

JBo
JBo

So...chalk the line on the pavement and note the plate number.

Dfc3166
Dfc3166

EXplain how this is different from having a dog touch the car with its nose when checking for drugs! The dog touches the car, with a handler at it's side. The chalk touches the tire when a handler of the chalk walks by. I think this is splitting hairs, your opening a can of worms.

walkintall
walkintall

This whole thing is just a goof, right? I mean, really now.....Chalking a tire is a SEARCH? Made me throw up a little bit i my throat just typing that. Mercy.