Published on: Thursday, October 27, 2022

Plaintiffs: chalking tires is an unconstitutional intrusion on owners of legally parked vehicles. City: no, it's not. Besides, we've done this for for nearly 100 years.

Court: Assuming that San Diego parking officers' routine "chalking" of car tires is a Fourth Amendment search, is it nonetheless constitutional under the "administrative search exception"? Ninth Circuit (2-1): If a dragnet is okay to nab drunk drivers, it's okay to preserve parking spots. Plus, honestly, who really cares about the chalk?  This “is de minimis at most.”

Dissent: The city’s practice “violates the constitutional rights of its citizens” by allowing for warrantless searches without evidence of wrongdoing. "[T]he City's interests in perpetuating its parking enforcement regime don't chalk up." “It is no doubt true that law enforcement, traffic enforcement and almost any other government function would be more efficient and more convenient if officers could skirt the Fourth Amendment. But inconvenience is the constitutional design.”

The case is  Andre Verdun, et, al. v. City of San Diego, 21-55046 (9th Cir. Oct. 26, 2022).

The Ninth Circuit decision creates a split with the 6th Circuit at Cincinnati. That appeals court has ruled that chalking tires without a warrant is a search that is presumptively unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment. In a second appeal in the same case, the 6th Circuit said several exceptions to the warrant requirement did not apply.