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Parking Ticket Chalk Found Illegal-Can I Get A Refund

Have you ever returned to your vehicle to find chalk on your tires and a parking ticket left on the vehicle? If so, keep on reading because you may be entitled to compensation for parking tickets you have paid and Massillamany, Jeter & Carson, LLP are the ones to help you!

In April of 2019, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the practice of chalking by parking enforcement officers is no longer allowed. The case was brought by Alison Taylor, a woman from the city of Saginaw, Michigan, who received 15 parking citations in just three short years. While at work, the only option for parking that is free all day for Ms. Taylor is a lot located across the street from a liquor store that is often covered in broken glass. This led Ms. Taylor, along with many of her coworkers, to choose between street parking or a different lot, both of which are free but have two-hour time limits for vehicles parked there. After receiving 15 parking citations in 3 years, Ms. Taylor was fed up. She chose to bring this to the courts. and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in her favor.

The Sixth Circuit based part of their reasoning on a 2012 United States Supreme Court decision, United States v. Jones, which stated that the police attaching a GPS tracker to a vehicle constituted a search. The Supreme Court held that the physical placement of a tracker on a vehicle without obtaining a warrant was a government trespass and considered an unconstitutional search.

The Sixth Circuit held that the practice of chalking a vehicle as a means of tracking how long a vehicle has been parked is similar to attaching a GPS tracker to a vehicle and is considered a search. Although the City argued that these types of parking citations are allowed under the “community caretaker” exception, the Court held that the search was not reasonable. The “community caretaker” exception to warrant requirements allows for routine traffic and parking enforcement to enable police to control the hazards of clogged streets. The Court, however, dismissed this exception, stating that Ms. Taylor’s vehicle posed no safety risk and that the practice of chalking was a means to raise revenue, not mitigate a public hazard.

What does this Sixth Circuit decision mean for you? If you have ever parked on a public street and returned to see chalk on your tires and a parking ticket on your vehicle, you could have standing to take legal action!

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