New Ulm foresees no chalking changes

Staff photo by Gage Cureton After a three-judge panel for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday that chalking tires violates the Fourth Amendment, local law enforcement and city administrators said they don’t foresee any changes to parking enforcement in New Ulm.

NEW ULM — Local law enforcement and city administrators said they don’t foresee any changes to how parking is enforced after a federal appeals court ruled against chalking car tires without a warrant Monday.

A three-judge panel for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this week that chalking tires violates the Fourth Amendment because it involves law enforcement trespassing on private property to obtain information on a person.

The court’s ruling follows a previous 2012 Supreme Court case decision declaring that police placing GPS on suspected criminals’ cars is unconstitutional without a warrant.

The case was brought before the 6th Circuit Court by Alison Taylor, a Saginaw, Mich., woman, after she received her 15th parking citation in just a few years.

The city of Saginaw, like New Ulm and other cities around the country, uses chalk to mark the tires of cars to enforce two-hour parking time limits.

Taylor’s lawyer argued that parking enforcement officers in the city were allegedly too aggressive in chalking parked vehicles and issuing tickets. A U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the city of Saginaw, but the Court of Appeals found that Taylor’s vehicle had not been a public safety hazard at the time of the 15th citation and her Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches was violated.

The decision sets a new standard for all states covered by the 6th Circuit including Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

However, cases such as Taylor v. Saginaw sometimes prompt law enforcement around the country to examine possible changes to parking enforcement in their cities.

New Ulm police Chief Dave Borchert said the city is examining the court decision and is waiting on feedback from City Attorney Roger Hippert on how possible changes to tire chalking may be implemented.

“It may not really relate to us,” Borchert said. “We’re really just waiting on feedback from the city attorney.”

Because Minnesota lies within the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, immediate changes may not be implemented with chalking and parking enforcement, Hippert said.

He said he disagrees with the 6th Circuit Court’s opinion and it most likely will not have any affect on the state.

“This isn’t anything that’s necessarily binding in Minnesota,” Hippert said.

Gage Cureton can be emailed at gcureton@nujournal.com.

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