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Tire chalking for parking enforcement held unconstitutional

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

The practice of marking car tires with chalk to track parking violations has been held to be an unconstitutional search in violation of the Fourth Amendment. In Taylor v. City of Saginaw, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Saginaw, Michigan’s use of chalk to mark the tires of parked cars to track how long they have been there constituted an unreasonable and illegal search of vehicles, violating the United States Constitution. The Court determined that chalking is a “search” for Fourth Amendment purposes, because a “search” occurs “when a government official invades an area in which a person has a constitutionally protected reasonable expectation of privacy” in an attempt to find something or obtain information. The Court held that chalking “searches” are not reasonable, because the City chalked the tires of cars that were “parked legally, without probable cause or even so much as ‘individualized suspicion of wrongdoing’ – the touchstone of the reasonableness standard.” The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, where Missouri is located, has not explicitly ruled on this issue.

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