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Appeals court finds tire chalking unconstitutional

April 24, 2019

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Tire chalking is a long standing procedure used for many decades by cities and parking authorities all over the US. The tire is marked to determine the position of the vehicle when it is parked in a time limited zone. The parking enforcement officer then returns past the time limit and tickets all the vehicles who have not moved.


On April 23rd 2019, Federal Circuit Judge Bernice Bouie Donald ruled that the practice constitutes a search and that the city (of Saginaw, MI) did not establish probable cause to conduct one.


“The City commences its search on vehicles that are parked legally, without probable cause or even so much as ‘individualized suspicion of wrongdoing’ — the touchstone of the reasonableness standard.” wrote Judge Bouie Donald in her decision.


An obvious fallback for cities, police departments, parking authorities and private parking managers is the use of ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition) equipment, which does not require touching the vehicle in any way, technology made popular by companies like Genetec and Tannery Creek Systems.


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