Flint, Bay City, MI: Illegal To Chalk Tires For Parking Violations?
Finding a place to park in Downtown Flint, Downtown Saginaw, Downtown Bay City, Downtown Detroit... you get the idea... can be irritating at times. Then, remembering to feed a meter more money or another swipe of your debit card is another issue. For some, the latter point is a regular habit earning them parking ticket after parking ticket. That's what makes the 'chalking tires' lawsuits so interesting. Still not sure if this is anywhere near as annoying as trying to navigate the Grand Blanc Kroger parking lot?
What is tire chalking in Mid-Michigan?
- Meter-maids or parking enforcement officers need a visual 'assist' of sorts to remember if a car has been in a parking spot too long. (Sidebar, I'm not sure why because modern meters flash green or red to show their status as paid or expired time.) So, they resort to making a chalk stripe on your tire or writing a time, etc.
Video of the above chalking photo actually happening
Is tire-chalking legal in Michigan?
Twice this year, cases of chalking tires have been declared unconstitutional -- one in Saginaw and another, more recently, in Bay City. According to a FOX2 Detroit story,
'U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington said chalking tires without a warrant violated constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.'
Did Bay City or Saginaw Michigan have to pay fines for chalking tires?
- According to the same story and a report on the Saginaw situation some fines were paid. In Bay City they paid out $60,000. $1,000 to the person that filed suit and $59,000 to that person's legal representation. Saginaw had to pay $1.00 (yes you read that correctly) to almost 5,000 people. Seems strange right? Basically, the judge said there wasn't damage to the vehicles, rather a violation of the 4th Amendment.
Why don't people just pay their parking tickets in Mid-Michigan?
Laziness is the main reason parking tickets are issued. Sometimes, yes... people simply forget to feed the parking meter. However, in the Saginaw case someone had 14 parking tickets on record. So, why not just pay the fine, right?
Either way, it's strange to think someone that regularly receives parking tickets could win a lawsuit of a city trying to enforce a local parking ordinance, but hey... they found a loophole and spent a lot more than a parking ticket to do it.