Can Parking Enforcement “Chalk” My Car Tires?
We’ve probably all seen a parking enforcement officer placing a chalk mark on a parked car’s tire. The act of “tire chalking” involves marking a car’s tire using chalk to determine the time for which it remains parked in a parking spot. Naturally, many people feel that this is some type of unlawful interference with a person’s personal property. However, our court system has recently entered a heated debate over whether this act is an illegal search under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently held the act of chalking a car’s tire without a warrant constitutional. In general, a police officer must have a warrant to seize or search your property. In the case of tire chalking, the Ninth Circuit held the act valid pursuant to the administrative search exception to the warrant requirement. The Court explained that chalking tires, “is reasonable in its scope and manner of execution. It is not used for general crime control purposes. And its intrusion on personal liberty is de minimis at most.”
Interestingly, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals previously held to the contrary. That Court held that chalking tires without a warrant is a search that is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment and that no exceptions to the warrant requirement applied. Typically, when there is a split in opinions between the federal circuit courts, the Supreme Court will take the case to resolve the disagreement. We will keep you posted if the Supreme Court agrees to take the issue on.
In the meantime, you can read about the case here: 2 Trump appointees battle as 9th Circuit upholds chalking tires; dissent accused of analysis by ‘hyperbole’ (abajournal.com)
You can read the Ninth Circuit decision here: 21-55046.pdf (uscourts.gov)
If you feel that your constitutional rights have been violated, contact the Nobles & Yanez Law Firm immediately for a consultation.