How do cops mark your tires to give you a parking ticket?

First of all, marking of tires isn’t the standard way of counting the amount of time you are parked in a spot. There are other measures. One such system available involves a computer that scans your license plate. I think the computer system is most likely used for big cities that have to mark a large volume of traffic on a frequent basis.

Aside from the computer scanning, you have tire marking. Part of the reason I’m researching this is because I, unknowingly, had my tire marked and a ticket placed on my windshield 24 hours later. Since my car is still inoperable, I would like to be aware of the procedures involved with the markings.

I asked the question in a legal forum and some interesting responses have been that it is police procedure for themselves to know and not for the public to find out. They told me to have fun pushing my car around. Its illegal to wipe any marks off your tire as well. They also kept saying that my vehicle will probably get impounded. I was shown no love for my question. Perhaps many of the forum responders like the parking enforcement because they had problems in the past with other people.

Upon further research into tire marking, I also found out that cops mark the headlights of potential drunk drivers with soap. Soaping is a legal procedure to enforce vehicle law. The cops can perform these actions without the suspect even knowing. So, you have to be careful about drinking and driving because cops have ways of marking your vehicle without you noticing it.

Marking tires for parking enforcement has to be targeted to a smaller populated area for the best results. If a cop spreads out their work too much, they could get confused about who is really parked for too long. This is why the computer scanning system needs to be used for larger populated areas. There have been reports of larger profits in parking management from the more efficient parking scanner.

Using chalk may have its limits and can easily be wiped off, but cops probably use different techniques to keep illegal parking people from breaking the law. Maybe a cop will put a chalk swipe on the left front wheel one day and the next day, they may focus on the right rear wheel. This could cause people to look all around their car every day for the mark.

Catching an illegal parker is easier for a 30 minute stall compared to a 24 hour one. The short time frame makes the work more routine, whereas a 24 hour lot may cause the cop to have to remember who was where. What if the person, who parked after 24 hours, looked exactly in the same position when they returned? The time length allowed to park is based on frequency of use and population.

The city council decides on 24 hour parking. They debate the issue as thoroughly as they can to arrive at a consensus. For Rice Lake, they are very strict on winter parking. No one is allowed to park on the road to make way for the snow plows. Because of this winter time ordinance, they probably decided to relent on 24 hour parking because people may have been complaining about restrictions.

I can’t imagine how parking would have been like before cars, or even with early cars. With few traffic laws in place, people must have had many issues with illegal parking. You probably didn’t start seeing timed parking lots until the mid 1900s. It was probably assumed that every parking lot was practically a 24 hour one.

It only needed to take a handful of parking squatters to get people complaining, which led to city council debates and eventually ordinances to be passed. The city has to decide where people can keep their car parked the longest time. Pushing squatters to designated areas can relieve some grievances.


Twitter: @acumagnet



3 thoughts on “How do cops mark your tires to give you a parking ticket?

  1. In San Francisco CA, they use their device to track how long you are there and I have not even noticed any mark on 4 of my tires and if you ask them why they did not mark your tire for courtesy ” they will say you are not courteous to the people that pay parking permit to park”

    • They hold a good argument against you. But it’s something that needs to be measured often. Cities go through a lot of changes and sometimes areas no longer need the parking enforcement like it used to because of declining business.

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