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Marking Tires With Chalk
Anyone who has ever parked in a small town (like Danville, Kentucky) that has a two-hour parking limit has probably seen parking enforcement officers marking tires with chalk to keep track of how long a vehicle has been in the same parking spot.
According to a recent case from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Taylor v. City of Saginaw, 2019 U.S. App. Lexis 11586 (6th Cir.) (6th Cir. Mich., Apr. 22, 2019), they may have to find another way to keep track of how long a car has been parked.
Marking Tires Constitutes a Search
The Court ruled that marking a tire with chalk does constitute search. And is subject to the reasonableness standard like any other search. The Court stopped short of saying that chalking is unconstitutional. The counsel for the City of Saginaw offered every justification and legal exception they could for the practice of chalking tires.
The Court addressed each argument and found that none of them demonstrated a government interest so important as to allow the search of a lawfully parked vehicle without any suspicion that a crime is being committed. Suggesting that cities can no longer chalk tires for the purposes of issuing tickets.
How Can Towns Legally Enforce Parking?
For those who think this means free parking for everyone, it does not. For those who are afraid they are not going to be able to park the next time they go downtown, you should not worry.
The Court said that there are ways a city can monitor how long a vehicle has been parked without constituting a search. They specifically mentioned having parking enforcement officers take photos of vehicles rather than chalking.