What would you do if you received 15 parking tickets in 36 months by the same parking enforcement officer who had a reputation as being prolific? You might want to challenge it in court. That’s what Alison Taylor did. The basis for her complaint was the chalking of her tires. She said it was an unreasonable search.

For those who don’t know, chalking a tire is a way for cops to know that you have not moved your car. They take a piece of chalk and put a mark on your tire and a mark on the street or curb that lines up with it. If they come back in X amount of minutes and see that you have not moved your car and have gone past your allotted time they issue you a ticket.

The cop in Saginaw, MI gave plenty of them. And Alison Taylor wasn’t having it anymore. The case went before a judge who decided this was indeed a search but not an “unreasonable” one and therefore did not violate the fourth amendment of the U.S. constitution. Then it got kicked up to a federal appeals court.

And guess what?

They found it was an unreasonable search because when a driver pulls into a space "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."

U.S. Circuit Judge Bernice Bouie Donald also wrote that a trespass had occurred by chalking the tire “because the City made intentional physical contact with Taylor's vehicle." Read the full NBC article about this case here.

Wow! Chalk up a win for the little guy! This could change things in a lot of places. Keep in mind this was decided in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and New Jersey is in the 3rd U.S. Circuit. Still, when considering the high cost of parking fines in NJ it wouldn’t be a bad thing if this eventually sets precedent.

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