A federal appeals court ruled Monday that it is unconstitutional for a parking enforcement officer to chalk drivers' tires to keep track of how long a vehicle has been parked. 

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati made the decision by reinstating a 2017 case from a woman who had been issued 15 parking tickets in three years in Saginaw, Mich., according to NBC News


The woman, Alison Taylor, said in a lawsuit that she had been issued all of the tickets by the same officer, described as the city's "most prolific issuer of parking tickets," in that time frame. 

Taylor claimed in the lawsuit that marking a car's tires with chalk should be classified as an unreasonable search under the Fourth Amendment. A U.S. district judge in Michigan dismissed the suit in 2017, saying that chalking a tire constituted a reasonable search because the procedure wouldn't violate Taylor's privacy. 

Two of three members of the appeals court's panel disagreed on that detail, ruling that chalking a tire was unreasonable search, NBC News reported. 

"The city commences its search on vehicles that are parked legally, without probable cause or even so much as 'individualized suspicion of wrongdoing' — the touchstone of the reasonableness standard," U.S. Circuit Judge Bernice Bouie Donald wrote. 

The judge also said the city was wrong to argue that parking enforcement is part of its "community care taking" responsibility since overstaying a parking spot doesn't cause harm to the community. She later added that the way Saginaw institutes parking laws "is not without constitutional limitation."

NBC News noted that the ruling sends Taylor's lawsuit back to U.S. District Court in Bay City, Mich.