Unconstitutional Meter Maids


As of Monday, April 22, the practice of chalking tires to enforce parking regulations has been deemed unconstitutional in the states of Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.  

Allison Taylor, a Michigan resident, sued the city of Saginaw over the 15 parking tickets that she had received between 2014 and 2017. The parking enforcement officer, also known as a “meter maid,” Tabitha Hoskins, had issued each ticket.

Taylor’s lawyer argued that the practice of tire chalking was not protected by the community caretaker exception, and that the city failed to provide any other exception allowing a warrantless search to be conducted, violating the 4th Amendment.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed unanimously, ruling that the city was not protected by the community caretaker exception and was searching vehicles “that are parked legally, without probable cause, or even so much as ‘individualized suspicion of wrongdoing.”

The case has been likened to the 2012 Supreme Court case that ruled the placing of a GPS tracker onto a car surmounted to a search, as in both cases the government is physically marking private property to obtain information without probable cause.

The practice of chalking is conducted in many cities across the United States as a way of raising revenue. Law professor Orin Kerr claims that parking enforcement officers could be rid of this constitutional issue if they were to simply take a picture of the car, so there could be a record of the placement of the car without physically marking it.

The city of Abilene parking enforcement officers and meter maids practice chalking. By heeding the words of Orin Kerr, there won’t be any questioning the constitutionality of the parking regulations.