Tire Chalking

Chalk one up for the Fourth Amendment.  I’m Amy E. Feldman.

Putting a chalk mark on a car’s tire has been a pretty common method for parking authorities to determine if a car exceeded the time it could be in a certain spot.  That’s how a Michigan woman wound up with fourteen tickets, so she filed a lawsuit claiming that the practice violates her Fourth Amendment right against illegal search and seizure.

Tire chalking is a pretty low-tech investigation technique, but it does provide information to the parking enforcement officer, and therefore, according to the court, constitutes a search.  The question of whether the search is reasonable however, continued to be litigated.  Just this past month, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that the practice is not necessary to meet the ordinary needs of law enforcement, and so it violated the woman’s Constitutional rights.  Now, parking authorities will have to go with other high-tech ways to tell if a car’s been there too long.  Like walking by and writing it down in a notebook.

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