Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution title=
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution
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By edhat staff

On Monday a federal appeals court ruled that "chalking" tires for parking enforcement violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, reports NPR.

After receiving her 15th parking citation in a few years Alison Taylor from Saginaw, Michigan, who the court described as "frequent recipient of parking tickets," sued the city and parking enforcement officer Tabitha Hoskins. Taylor alleged that Hoskins, who issued all of Taylor's citations, was a "prolific" chalker. The lawsuit stated that Hoskins marked a tire with chalk then circled back to see if Taylor's car had moved. Taylor stated that chalking was unconstitutional, reports NPR.

"Trespassing upon a privately-owned vehicle parked on a public street to place a chalk mark to begin gathering information to ultimately impose a government sanction is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment," Taylor's lawyer, Philip Ellison, wrote in a court filing.

All three judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit agreed stating chalking tires is a kind of trespass and it requires a warrant. Chalking is deemed a "search" for purposes of the Fourth Amendment as government officials physically trespass upon a constitutionally protected area to obtain information. 

The Fourth Amendment states, "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Law scholars have replied to the case on social media platforms stating parking enforcement officers could take a photo of the car instead of chalk to get around the trespass violation. 

Could this affect the way parking enforcement officers issue tickets in Santa Barbara County and beyond? Weigh in below in the comment section.

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Ahlia Apr 26, 2019 05:43 PM
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

I have known several people going back to 1986 who had businesses downtown and would park their nondescript looking car nearest to their building and run down every 75-90 minutes with a wet rag and rub the chalk mark off.... allowing them to park there all day. The cameras that photo your license plate w/a time stamp are the only sure way to catch parking offenders. However, the city, (so far) has not invested the $$ to have them everywhere. We do need parking enforcement but I believe that when they reduced the time from 90 to 75 minutes it made it impossible to attend a meeting, have lunch or shop. This contributes to the reasons why more and more people don't want to go downtown if they don't "have to" . BTW - Ventura allows its' downtown shoppers 2 hours to shop &/or get something to eat.

Bene Apr 26, 2019 05:13 PM
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

A far bigger money grab by a city than parking, and some say is unconstitutional, is red light cameras. Be aware, if you go to Ventura, it's loaded with them. They cost you over $700 (over $800 if you want traffic school) so city and the private company operating them is making big bucks. But the worst part is the company supplying the cameras has often been accused of making too short yellow lights, and/or simply going off inaccurately. Ventura also seems to have traffic lights that seem as if they are purposely set high and are smaller than Santa Barbara's--making them harder to see. I now avoid Ventura entirely after a family member with witnesses to prove he did not run a red light was still charged over $800 due to what was likely a faulty camera.

All Sides Apr 27, 2019 09:44 AM
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

I once received a ticket in the mail from Oakland for not paying a toll on a bridge. They sent a picture of a truck with a service body and ladder rack, mine has neither. It was also a different shade of color than mine,(black and white photo) and ,oh yes, a different license plat number. So, since you cannot re-register your vehicle in CA with unpaid tickets, I had to call them, then mail a copy of their picture to them to get the ticket cancelled. I am not a fan of camera tickets either.

a-1566356715 Apr 26, 2019 02:53 PM
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

Well, in addition to "Duh, no," the answer to your simpleton question is: Did you argue the issue in any of your cases? Do feel offended by what the traffic enforcement person did? Do you actually even understand the argument challenging the practice? Or, do you simply want to benefit from what others did and may be doing? What a parasite.

PitLocal Apr 26, 2019 10:06 AM
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

Shoot, I'd rather have my tire chalked than my car's photograph taken or somehow GPS tagged. At least with the chalk, I know that I've been marked and can move my car. Otherwise, it's just a mystery that results in me enriching the City's coffers, once again.

RHS Apr 26, 2019 08:53 AM
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

First, this decision will not last. Second, it does not affect people in California at all. California courts have previously rejected this claim. In addition the rights under the 4th Amendment are not protected as aggressively as against non-criminal state action. The parking laws do not allow incarceration and things like the right to appointed counsel and claims of cruel and unusual punishment and the right to remain silent do not come into play. The right to object to a warrantless inspection of your business is not recognized when the inspectors are health inspectors protecting public safety or the community. Finally, of course the only objection would be the trivial placing of a chalk mark on a tire tread. This is eliminated by the taking of pictures which are, as they can last indefinitely, more intrusive of one's privacy than the temporary mark. This is silly stuff. We need to live in a civilized manner with the others around us, complying with agreed upon rules such as time limits seems pretty basic.

jqb Apr 26, 2019 08:10 AM
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

This case was based on a previous Supreme Court ruling against placing a GPS tracker on a car. The previous ruling was obviously wrong because placing a GPS tracker may be a violation of private property but is obviously not a "search" or a "seizure", and this ruling is even more wrong because placing a chalk mark is even less of a "search". It should have been left up to legislatures to determine whether leaving a temporary chalk mark is allowed as a legitimate government function.

REX OF SB Apr 25, 2019 05:13 PM
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

Whatever happened locally to car boots? Ten or 15 years ago, the bright yellow "boots" were unveiled by the PD with a great deal of hoopla. These heavy metal devices were clamped onto the front wheels of cars that had accrued many unpaid parking tickets, preventing the vehicles from being driven. You'd see them on cars all over downtown. Then one day they just disappeared, never to be seen here again. Does anyone know why? They seemed to be a good idea.

SantaBarbaraObserver Apr 25, 2019 01:09 PM
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

And yet they still allow unwarranted searches of ones person, phone, auto, computer, email and the most personal and private of all, your body... Give it a few weeks, our corrupt politicians will find a way to re-engage their revenue streams. They need to ticket us in order to pay for their own parking.

a-1566356715 Apr 27, 2019 12:38 AM
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

Geez. Remember the good old days when there was plenty of parking? My street is one of the last near downtown to join in the neighbor vs. neighbor parking antagonisms. Now one of our neighbors is hogging two spots every day. He deliberately parks taking up two spaces in such a way that no other vehicle can squeeze in. This neighbor is so self-important and contemptible, he has taken to placing an obstacle in the way, too, when his vehicle is absent. This is so that if someone should try to park in "his" two spaces, that person would have to move the obstacle and then likely end up facing off with him about his selfish, immature behavior. Several neighbors have mentioned this self-serving, inconsiderate behavior to me. No-one wants to confront this dipstick and tell him to cut it out. What a world we live in now.

ZeroHawk Apr 26, 2019 09:53 AM
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

you must be a politician or someone who lives far from downtown. i live downtown and have to pay the city $65 a year to park somewhere close to my house. they still harass me. i contend with tourists, SBCC kids, shoppers, and diners parking on my block and the "parking enforcement" is no where to be seen...cherry picking.

PitMix Apr 25, 2019 03:46 PM
Court Rules Using Chalk for Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution

It seems like if you have enough money, you can sue and get the courts to agree to almost anything. If you don't have any money, you have to pay the fine. A chalk mark on your tire is an unreasonable search and seizure? Really? I wonder how the nutty 5-4 majority Supreme Court will rule on this issue?

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