Court rules tire-chalking violates Fourth Amendment

A common practice in the parking enforcement field has come under fire in a federal lawsuit.

Tire-chalking is one way parking enforcement officers keep track of how long a vehicle is parked in a certain location.

But a federal judge has now ruled the practice unconstitutional.

The case originated in Michigan, making its way to the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Appeals, where a panel decided tire-chalking is trespassing and violates the Fourth Amendment.

While Florida is not in the district of the ruling, it could eventually ripple across the country and down to the Bay Area.

In St. Petersburg, the practice has been standard for 60 years. Spaces where you can park for free, for a limited amount of time, are monitored and enforced by a city employee who rides around in a little cart, marking tires with chalk to determine how long you’ve been there.

City officials say they’ll follow the case, but don’t plan on making any changes.

Attorney Denis Devlaming doubts the court here would rule the same way.

“It doesn’t track the car, it is no more than a police officer would do if he went to the back of the car and wrote down the license plate,” Devlaming said.

Folks who spoke to FOX 13 News in downtown St. Petersburg did not express constitutional concerns with tire-chalking.

However, one mused, “If they did away with chalk, then we would get more meters. Not good!”