Chalk-marking tires for parking control may be illegal

U.S. Appeals Court rules it's unconstitutional

A federal appeals court in the U.S. has ruled the longtime parking enforcement practice of tire-chalking is unconstitutional.

The ruling stated that marking a car’s tires to gather information is a form of trespass requiring a warrant – similar to police attaching a GPS to a vehicle to track a suspect.

Parking control officers have been chalking tires with white lines for decades in zones without meters to enforce time limits and issue tickets.

This could cost cities considerable cash, from lost revenue or having to install meters where none exist.

Or not.

Orin Kerr of the University of Southern California law school suggests it would be just as easy, in this day and age, for parking enforcers to take a photo of the car.

A U.S. District Court had earlier dismissed the lawsuit, concluding that chalking, while a type of search, was not at all unreasonable. The court noted people have a lesser expectation of privacy in their cars than, for example, in their homes. In addition, there is a perceived “community caretaker” exception to warrant requirements for routine parking and traffic enforcement so police can control the hazards of clogged streets.

The Appeals Court panel found traditional law on searches of vehicles had been upended by a 2012 Supreme Court decision restricting the powers of police to use GPS devices to track criminal suspects.