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In my New Jersey residence it is required to have a parking sticker to park on a residential street, a sticker placed left-rear of the vehicles. This particular day there was snow on the vehicles, and the officer verifying parking stickers was wiping snow off cars.

My question is, are officers allowed to touch or wipe vehicles by removing snow to verify parking permits?

Also are they allowed to touch or lift the wiper blades to place a ticket?

  • 28
    The snow is not the property of the vehicle's owner. – Michael Hardy Jan 21 at 5:16
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    As far as I can see, anyone is allowed to wipe off snow or touch your vehicle. While many people don't like others touching their vehicle, I don't think there is a law against it, unless you somehow damage the vehicle. – sleske Jan 21 at 7:00
  • @phoog *I doubt than ANY courts would find it unreasonable" - as the snow is not part of the vehicle and they cant verify the parking permit otherwise, A bit more complicated is the matter with the wiper blades - as those are obviously part of the vehicle. But find another place to leave the ticket that is at least on par for "keeping the ticket in place" - and at the same time is not part of the vehicle ... and I seriously doubt anybody would consider the ticket placed under a heavy stone placed close to the windshield appropriate as it most likely can damage your car in some way. – eagle275 Jan 21 at 10:01
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    Fun fact: In Denmark the private parking companies are not allowed to wipe snow off the windshield and can therefore not give any parking "fines" when it is snowy here (Which it rarely is nowadays) – Frederik Nielsen Jan 21 at 14:09
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – feetwet Jan 23 at 10:44
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Yes, police are allowed to touch your car or wipe snow off the windshield to view a parking permit. Indeed, if they just ticketed people because their permit could not be seen through the snow, there would be a huge public outrage. They are not allowed to search your car without permission or probable cause in an emergency, but wiping snow or touching the exterior of your car do not constitute searches. Likewise, towing companies are allowed to touch your car in order to tow it away for whatever legal reasons there are for towing a car.

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    There is probably a legal obligation to make the permits visible that is violated when the owner fails to remove the snow and is being redressed when it is cleared away. – ohwilleke Jan 20 at 22:38
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    @ohwilleke : what? So in a heavy snowfall would I be legally required to go out every five minutes, for many hours if necessary, to clean my car again and again? – vsz Jan 21 at 5:20
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    @vsz I think they're equating keeping the parking permit visible at rest to the lawful obligation in many states to reasonably attempt keep your license plate visible while operating your vehicle. Of course, it's easy enough to assume that since you don't have to keep your plate clean when parked that you wouldn't need to do the same for a permit. – Logarr Jan 21 at 6:15
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    Oddly, it seems that marking parked cars to detect people over-staying in time-limited parking spots may be unconstitutional. This is unlikely to apply to wiping snow off the car, though—neither opinion in the relevant case law seems to have cared one whit about the officer touching the car. The majority opinion in the relevant precedent focused on the alteration of the car as being trespass. (The minority opinion focused on the long-term surveillance aspects of that case, which involved a GPS tracker.) – KRyan Jan 21 at 18:24
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    @KRyan Your analysis of the opinion seems to directly contradict that of the author of the article you linked. According to the article, or persons quoted in it, the majority opinion was entirely about touching the car. – user560822 Jan 21 at 23:26

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