Ohio-based court rules tire-chalking for parking enforcement unconstitutional

The age-old parking-enforcement practice of tire-chalking is unconstitutional, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled Monday, saying that it violated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition of unreasonable searches.

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a first-of-its-kind decision, ruled 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 suspected drug dealer.

Parking attendants across the country have been chalking tires with big white lines for decades in zones without meters to enforce time limits and issue tickets. It’s a substantial source of revenue for many cities.

The decision, while undoubtedly bringing joy to parking scofflaws everywhere, could cost some cities money, either from lost revenue or having to install more meters.

On the other hand, as Fourth Amendment expert Orin Kerr of the University of Southern California law school tweeted, it “seems easy enough these days for parking enforcers to just take a photo of the car, or even just a close-up photo of the tire, rather than chalk it. … No 4A issues then.”

Read the full article in The Columbus Dispatch here