Tire marking unconstitutional


Bowling Green police have stopped chalking tires as a way to enforce parking restrictions, after a
federal court declared Monday that the practice is unconstitutional.
The decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals created a new legal precedent in Michigan, Ohio,
Kentucky and Tennessee. Marking tires to enforce parking rules is like entering property without a
search warrant, the federal court said as it declared the practice unconstitutional.
Justin White, deputy chief of police with the Bowling Green Police Division, said he ordered a stop to
the practice on Tuesday.
He said the city has been doing chalking for at least 25 years.
The purpose of marking tires with white chalk is to keep track of how long a vehicle is parked. He said
his department, along with the city’s attorney and administrators, will discuss how to proceed.
He said police up until Tuesday monitored city lots that have short-term parking time limits. On-street
parking within the downtown area is limited to two hours and also has been monitored.
“Our chalking activity accounts for about 10 percent of all of our parking activity,” White said. Most of
parking enforcement comes in metered lots.
“With all rulings … we have to follow those rules and laws so we’re going to have to adapt to it and
change our enforcement strategies,” he said.
Perrysburg police stopped the practice several years ago, as has Rossford police.
The case arose in Saginaw, Michigan, where a woman had received more than a dozen $15 tickets for
exceeding the two-hour parking limit. Her lawyer argued that a parking patrol officer violated the
Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches.
A three-judge panel of the appeals court agreed.
A federal court said chalking tires to keep track of parked cars is an unreasonable search and has no
role in maintaining public safety.
The purpose of marking tires was to “raise revenue,” not to protect the public against a safety risk, the
court said.
The case will return to federal court in Bay City.

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