A three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled traffic enforcement officers cannot chalk tyres as it is a violation of the fourth amendment to the country's constitution.
The fourth amendment guarantees protection from "unreasonable searches and seizures" by the government.
According to the judges, chalking is a form of trespass on private property, and requires a warrant.
In their decision, the judges cited a precedent set by the Supreme Court in 2012, which ruled putting a GPS tracker on a car was type of "search".
As such, the court ruled parking officers had, by chalking tyres, searched vehicles "that are parked legally, without probable cause, or even so much as 'individualized suspicion of wrongdoing' — the touchstone of the reasonableness standard".
The decision by the Court of Appeals only applies to states of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, which are covered by the Sixth Circuit.
The ruling was made on a case brought by Alison Taylor against the city of Saginaw, Michigan.
Taylor brought her suit after receiving 15 parking ticket in a number of years, all of which were issued by officer Tabitha Hoskins who marked her tyres with chalk.
The judges stated the city marked tyres to "raise revenue" and did "not demonstrate, in law or logic, that the need to deter drivers from exceeding the time permitted for parking — before they have even done so — is sufficient to justify a warrantless search under the community caretaker rationale".
"We don't think everyone deserves free parking," Philip Ellison, Taylor's lawyer, told the Associated Press.
"But the process Saginaw selected is unconstitutional... I'm very glad the three judges who got this case took it seriously. It affects so many people."
Cover image by Bev Sykes on Flickr, Creative Commons.
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