The Death Knell Tolls for Tire Chalking

Tire chalking is a practice that has been around since the 1920s, but as new technologies, such as mobile parking apps and digital vehicle recognition systems, have been developed, chalking tires has become a less commonplace method of enforcement.

For those unfamiliar with the practice, tire chalking is simple: a parking enforcement officer marks the tires of cars in time-limited parking spaces so that when he returns he can see which cars have overstayed the limit.

Further to the decline in popularity for this enforcement practice, on April 23rd, 2019 a panel of three federal judges ruled unanimously chalking tires is unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the Fourth Amendment’s ban on unreasonable searches and seizures.

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.

It will be interesting to see what follows next for parking enforcement. Of course, there are other technologies available to cities, parking authorities and managers, that do not require touching a vehicle in any way. But as tire chalking is rejected for these more modern methods, will other enforcement practices such as booting and towing fall out of use too?

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