Parking Enforcement Chalkers Violate the U.S. Constitution

By Diane Jonas

On Monday, April 22, 2019, a Federal Court of Appeals heard a case involving parking enforcement violations and the legality of citations issued.  The court determined that when officers mark a car tire with chalk for the specific purpose of gathering information to ascertain whether a time limit has been exceeded, it is a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

              The complainant’s lawyer argued that, “trespassing upon a privately-owned vehicle parked on a public street to place a chalk to begin gathering information to ultimately impose a government sanction is unconstitutional.”

              In 2012 the Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure, for law enforcement to place a GPS tracker on a car. Similarly, the Court of Appeals found that it is also unconstitutional and an unreasonable search and seizure to mark a vehicle’s tire with chalk.

              The decision affects the 6th Circuit Federal Court, which includes Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.  Oftentimes, other courts follow suit.  We will keep you posted with further developments in the Pennsylvania Courts.