Tire chalking by parking enforcement is unconstitutional, rules federal court

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/04/23/tire-chalking-by-parking-enfor.html


If I’ve spent the day detailing my car, including the tires, then you’d better not let me catch you chalking them in the event that I may break a parking ‘law’. You are disfiguring my property - would you want me to stamp a big ‘L’ on your child’s forehead to see if it’s still there tomorrow?


I agree, but I wouldn’t call children property… But the federal court agrees with you, so hey!!!




Whatever tech that is used to replace chalk, will be more draconian.


Parking in Fenway I received so many tickets back when I was in college in the Back Bay.
Yeah, I want all my money back.


Exactly. Shortsighted ruling. The replacement for chalk is automated license plate scanning that records your car’s position with GPS. Much more draconian than chalk.


If your car were on a trailer I might agree with you. But on a public road? Not so much. If you car is so fancy chalk on tires is big deal you shouldn’t be driving it or parking it on public roads. Chalking tires has been around longer than you or your car, and was part of the deal when you registered your car, that it would be subject to vehicle code enforcement.


GPS is not all that precise. I think even high quality differential GPS is accurate to centimeters not millimeters. I’m pretty sure that I could park my car, get a ±1㎝ reading, drive around the block and park again within ±1㎝. Maybe not every time, but if I do it say 7 out of 10 times, or even 1 out of 10 that is going to be a lot of parking tickets just because I use the position of the end of a driveway or a tree or something to line up my parking. (note: in real life I park in my own driveway, so I can plug in my car, but I use to have places where the driveway was narrow so one car was on street, or for other reasons not all of my “fleet” was parked in the driveway)

Chalk on the other hand is far less frequently at the “same spot” after moving a car (and I think it is a feature of chalk that after a short drive the chalk is actually gone, maybe not around the block but to the corner store at least).

So I don’t think a GPS location would work out.

Of corse tires have DOT markings with inflation information and such, so a good detailed photo that shows relationship of that to the ground would be an Ok substitute if you don’t need to match the “wears off quickly on a drive” part of chalk.


This really is bad news. In no time all the metermaids (not just some as currently) will have those license plate scanners that are far more efficient for them, since instead of having to tag each individual car they simply drive down the street and every car is tagged. With the added benefit of potentially having those license plates run through whatever database they want.


“digital” Chalking already exists:


Red light cameras need to be next.

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Parking time limit laws frequently prohibit you from reparking within a block of the first parking space. Precision GPS is not required. So plate readers and gps are better for accurate enforcement than chalk, but also more invasive.


It’s being done where I live now. Yay? /s

This seems pretty baffling to me. The fourth protects from search and seizure. Clearly seizure doesn’t apply, so we are looking at search. But they aren’t searching your car, they are searching the road for cars and determining whether those cars are legally or illegally parked. I don’t understand how a chalk mark brings the fourth into it. It does not affect the security of your car, doesn’t limit your use of the car, and doesn’t give them any information they aren’t legally allowed to have.


That won’t work. Chalking isn’t used to see if the car is in the same spot, but to see if it has moved. It’s perfectly legal to leave the spot, drive around the block, and park in the same spot again. GPS can’t tell if the car was moved.


Oh! Well yeah, if the law is “blocks” a normal GPS would be just fine. Even if the law is like 40 feet you could do that.

Although that is likely to happen regardless of this court ruling.

I don’t think chalking is that common anymore. They pretty much just scan your license plate as they roll by, now.

@stripes if you’re parked in the same area for longer than allowed, you can be ticketed. Centimeters don’t enter into it. They only need to know the approximate location of the parking space, and its adjacent spaces. Moving your car a few feet, or into an adjacent space, will not get you out of the ticket. But back in 2006 I worked with parking enforcement officers who would just take a time-stamped picture showing license plate and the area around the car. They would take another picture right before writing your ticket. It was pretty imprecise but totally accurate.


In San Diego they use invisible chalk, only infrared light can see it, so you never know if they chalked your tire, madding I know.


They still do it in my city. Some of the cop cars have automatic plate readers, but they still use chalk to enforce the 72 hour residential parking limit on “abandoned” vehicles, and it’s somewhat elaborate, not just the ticking of the back of tires that used to be so common.

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