Tire-chalking is unconstitutional, court says

Source: The Columbus Dispatch | April 24, 2019 | Rick Rouan

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Monday in a case that originated in Saginaw, Michigan, that marking a car’s tires violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches. Besides Ohio and Michigan, the court’s jurisdiction includes Kentucky and Tennessee.

The appeals court’s majority opinion, which overturned a lower court’s ruling, likened marking a tire to police installing a GPS tracker on a suspect’s car, which the U.S. Supreme Court restricted in a 2012 decision.

Chalking tires to enforce parking rules is a long-standing practice in cities across the country.

Parking enforcement officers stopped using chalk to mark vehicles last year, when the city acquired license-plate readers to keep track of vehicle movement, said Robert Ferrin, assistant director for parking services.

The parking division has nine license-plate readers, which are attached to vehicles that patrol areas such as the Short North, where drivers are required to pay to park on residential streets that don’t have parking meters.

That amounts to digital marking, but Ferrin said he is unsure whether the court’s ruling prohibits that as well.

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