‘Chalking’ tires ruled unconstitutional by federal court

Chalking car tires deemed unconstitutional

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - If you park your car around Richmond, chances are you’ve had your tires marked with chalk by parking enforcement.

One Michigan woman, who racked up 15 parking tickets, argued that it’s unconstitutional, and a federal court agreed.

A 2012 Supreme Court ruling stopped police from attaching GPS devices on cars, labeling that action as an illegal search.

“This court said, ‘If you’re chalking somebody’s tires, then that’s a trespass for somebody’s vehicle. If you’re doing it for the purpose of obtaining information, it’s a search,’” NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin said.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people from “unlawful search and seizure,” which is why the Michigan woman’s case was moved forward by a federal appeals court.

“It’s got municipalities thinking, and one argument might be, ‘Look, why chalk tires anyway? Why not just take photos of the parked cars and compare the photographs?’” Benjamin said.

Many locals said while getting parking tickets can put a real damper on their day, enforcing parking limits helps keep spots open for other people.

“There’s going to be a lot more parking tickets, a lot more people being upset by being charged by the city," Malik Hall, of Richmond, said.

“There has to be a way to regulate, otherwise people are just going to park there in that spot forever," another Richmond resident, Saritha Kosarussavadi, said.

Even though a federal court ruled in favor of the Michigan woman, those with parking violations aren’t off the hook just yet.

“I don’t think we’re going to be free of chalking tires or parking tickets ever," Benjamin said. “For it to have a national effect, it would have to come from a federal circuit that covers Virginia or from the U.S. Supreme Court."

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