Cities react to ruling against chalking parked cars

May 9, 2019

Cities in the U.S. have had different reactions to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit's ruling in April that tire chalking—a practice used for decades to enforce parking limits—is unconstitutional. 

The Washington Post reported Monday that the city of Saginaw, Michigan, has already asked the court to reconsider its ruling, which called the practice revenue generation rather than enforcement. Numerous other cities the 6th Circuit covers have taken a different approach by putting away the chalk over the possibility of lawsuits following the ruling. They include cities as large as Columbus, Ohio, and as small as Athens, Tennessee. The 6th Circuit's ruling affects Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

READ THIS: Tire chalking to enforce parking spot time limits ruled unconstitutional

The ruling declared tire chalking violates the Fourth Amendment, which forbids "unreasonable searches." The latest ruling overturned a 2012 Supreme Court decision, which focused on placing devices such as GPS trackers on a car to keep tabs on a criminal or suspect. The case limited the power of police departments to intrude on private property. However, the case also carved out a "community caretaker" exception for areas such as parking enforcement.

Judge Bernice Bouie Donald, who delivered the unanimous verdict for the three-judge panel, said the exception is dismissed because a car parked for too long does not pose a public safety risk.

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However, the ruling's reaction led the court to issue an "amended" verdict, according to the report, which urged Saginaw to come up with an argument to convince the 6th Circuit that tire chalking is an acceptable practice for parking enforcement. The original verdict also did not bar departments from, say, taking a photo of a car to gather the same amount of information as tire chalking. 

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