Is the practice of chalking tires to monitor parking legal? That debate is now at hand due to some crafty arguments raised by two Michigan lawyers. On Monday a three federal judge panel unanimously ruled that the police practice of chalking tires was unconstitutional because it violates the Fourth Amendment ban on unreasonable searches and seizures. That ruling only impacts the states overseen by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals – Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. That said, other states not overseen by the 6th Circuit have taken notice of the ruling and have chosen to modify the chalking practice used for parking enforcement. Essentially, the attorneys arguing the issue hung their proverbial hats on some case law related to GPS monitoring, and the fact that the government is prohibited from tracking someone with a device attached to their car without a search warrant. They argued that in like kind marking/ chalking a tire impugns one’s right to privacy and to be free from unlawful searches and seizures. The 6th Circuit judges found that the enforcement practice of ‘chalking’ was not a matter of public safety but was more akin to simply a method to raise revenue; moreover, there was no probable cause to justify the ‘search’. It is always interesting to see how the winds of change impact our laws. Will Washington State go the way of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, or will it ‘chalk’ the ruling up to nothing more than hyperbole. Only time will tell.
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