The divergence between old and new can play out in unusual and unexpected ways. Some people are serious aficionados of antiques while others must have the latest and greatest in fashion or technology. Classic cars are one example. While some may vaguely appreciate their vintage value, they prefer the bells and whistles of a 21st century vehicle. At the other extreme are those who gladly put up with a lack of modern conveniences for style and nostalgia.
Battle of the Meter Maids
Speaking of old-fashioned, chalking tires comes to mind. Depending on your age and driving experience you may have not-so-fond memories of trying to avoid the wicked wand of the Man (or Woman). For many, it is not a memory of bygone days but a contemporary hassle, playing out on a regular basis.
Most cities and towns have parking ordinances, often quite lucrative and a bane of the average driver. In areas with limited parking, they often make use of the age-old practice possibly dating back to the 1920s. As more modern methods of parking control have evolved, the procedure has become less common. Nonetheless, the traditional routine remains in use in many areas.A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has just reversed a district court case wherein the 'chalking' practice had been ruled reasonable. Curiously, the ruling rests more on a matter of property rights. Click To Tweet
The pervasive presence of the “meter maid”, the ominous wand in hand, can strike fear into the hearts of wary drivers, weary of the daily grind of avoiding a parking ticket. Even if you don’t have much need to use them, you have seen parking spots with their signs. In certain areas, they seem to be everywhere.
With the need to enforce the time limits, local authorities resort to ways of keeping track of actual time a vehicle has been in a spot. The traditional method for that has been for a parking enforcement officer to make the rounds, identifying potential scofflaws with a chalk mark on a tire.
Appeals Court Says Chalking a Property Issue
That may be changing. A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has just reversed a district court case wherein the “chalking” practice had been ruled reasonable. What is interesting, if not a bit odd, is the approach taken by the court. Whereas one might expect this to be basically a privacy issue, the ruling rests more on a matter of property rights. That the main purpose, and effect, of the practice seems to be more about revenue generation than public safety didn’t help the government’s case.
“However odd the ruling may seem, it’s a clear consequence of the direction that the Supreme Court and many legal scholars have been pushing Fourth Amendment law over the last decade: a return to the preeminence of a property-based conception of Fourth Amendment protections, perhaps at the expense of courts fully considering expectations of privacy.”
Anyone inclined to celebrate prematurely should take a breath. First of all, these things take time. Secondly, this ruling is only in the 6th Circuit, which covers Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Thirdly, chalking tires has been on its way out for awhile anyway. Technology offers plenty of alternatives.
You can read more about this at What Does Chalking Tires Have to Do With the Fourth Amendment?.