Community service specialist Nick Garey marks a tire while enforcing the two-hour parking limit along West Milwaukee Street in downtown Janesville last fall. A federal appeals court has ruled that chalking tires is unconstitutional, but Janesville will continue the practice, said Police Chief Dave Moore.


Janesville motorists who park too long in one place still might get their tires chalked, despite a recent federal court ruling.

Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore said the ruling in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affects only Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

Moore said he has read the court’s decision.

He forwarded it to the city attorney’s office for review and is waiting for a response.

Meanwhile, Janesville “community service specialists,” who wear uniforms but are not sworn law-enforcement officers, will continue to chalk tires as part of the city’s parking-enforcement program, Moore said.

The appeals court ruled Monday that chalking tires—a common practice in many cities—violates the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, which outlaws “unreasonable” searches and seizures.

The court said tire-chalking is like entering property without a search warrant, according to a story by The Associated Press.

The case was brought by Alison Taylor, who works in a newspaper advertising department, The New York Times reported.

She had accumulated 14 tickets in three years for exceeding the two-hour parking limit in Saginaw, Michigan.

As in Janesville, Saginaw marks tires with chalk to keep track of how long a vehicle is parked.

Moore called the case “peculiar.”

“To suggest that placing a chalk mark on a tire is some kind of search or seizure, that doesn’t make sense to me, but we’ll see what the courts decide,” Moore said.

Moore said Janesville has been chalking tires for at least 40 years. He recalled the city had parking meters downtown until the mid- to late 1970s, but he said chalking might have been used even earlier to enforce parking elsewhere in the city.

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