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GPS Tracking Laws By State

GPS Tracking Laws By State: The Complete Guide 2024

If you’re considering using GPS tracking devices, it’s important to understand the laws surrounding their usage. For businesses, GPS trackers can help monitor employee vehicles and promote responsible driving practices. As a consumer, you may want to use GPS units to keep an eye on a teenage driver or address concerns about trust. While purchasing a GPS tracker is legal, the installation and use of these devices can be subject to specific regulations. Familiarizing yourself with federal laws on electronic surveillance and state penal codes is crucial to ensure you use GPS devices within the boundaries of the law. Let’s explore the GPS tracking laws and regulations that apply to you, providing you with the information you need to use these devices legally and responsibly.

GPS Tracking Laws By State

First of all, you can legally track a vehicle if:

  • The vehicle or asset is owned by you or your business
  • You are the legal guardian or parent of the teen driver
  • Your wife or husband might be cheating and you both of rights to the vehicle
  • The vehicle is owned or leased by your car lot and GPS tracker would be used for repo (default)

However, it could be illegal to use a GPS tracker if:

  • You go inside the vehicle and are not the registered owner of that vehicle
  • You want to track a cheating boyfriend or girlfriend

Truck GPS Tracker

Is It Legal To Equip A GPS Tracker In Your Car – Laws In All 50 States

Generally speaking, the federal laws (or more appropriately guidelines) have some language that seems fairly clear and applies to all 50 states. The language in the GPS tracking laws in each state varies some but the general rule of thumb is:

  1. It is legal to track a minor who is driving your vehicle without acquiring consent from the teen driver.
  2. You can legally put a GPS tracker in a vehicle you own yourself.
  3. You can legally equip a GPS device in your fleet vehicle driven by an employee (although some states require driver consent)

In most states, private investigators have more flexibility with cyber-security tools like cell phone tracking and hidden cameras. However, if you worry about illegal activities while monitoring employees or using GPS trackers for business, consult a licensed private investigator. This step ensures compliance with labor laws and privacy regulations.

When tracking a minor child or teenage driver with a real-time GPS tracker, you generally need no consent. However, catching a cheating partner with a vehicle tracker depends on who owns or leases the car. Additionally, the method of placing the tracker can affect the requirement for owner consent.

Given the nuances of electronic tracking, refer to the directory below to understand specific GPS tracking laws for your area and intended use.

GPS Monitoring Laws State By State

State

Legal Reference

Statutory Overview

Alaska

In Alaska, the act of stalking encompasses following or monitoring someone using a global positioning device or any similar technological tools. Using a GPS to track someone without their knowledge or consent can be considered stalking under Alaskan law.

Arizona

In Arizona, unauthorized use of a GPS or electronic device to continuously monitor someone's activities or online behavior for 12 hours or on multiple occasions is defined as stalking.

California

Cal. Pen. Code § 637.7

Miscellaneous Crimes

In California, using electronic tracking devices to follow individuals is prohibited, with certain exceptions. This includes devices attached to movable objects transmitting electronic signals to disclose location or movement.

Connecticut

CGS § 53a-181f

Electronic stalking: Class B misdemeanor

In Connecticut, using a GPS or similar system to repeatedly and remotely track someone, causing them to fear for their safety, is defined as electronic stalking.

Delaware

11 Del. C. § 1335(8)

Offenses Against Public Health, Order and Decency

In Delaware, it's illegal to knowingly place a tracking device on a motor vehicle without the consent of its owner or lessee.

Florida

Fla. Stat. § 934.425

Security of Communications, Surveillance

In Florida, it's illegal to install a tracking device or app on someone's property without their consent. Consent is presumed revoked if:

(a) A marital dissolution petition is filed by one spouse against the other. (b) One party files a protective injunction against the other.

Hawaii

H.R.S. § 803-41, H.R.S. § 803-42

Electronic Eavesdropping

In Hawaii, the intentional use of a tracking device requires a search warrant or other order, unless there's consent. A "tracking device" refers to any tool that allows for tracking the movement of a person or object.


Illinois

720 ILCS 5/12-7.3

Stalking

In Illinois, if someone previously convicted of stalking knowingly follows the same person or places them under surveillance, and transmits a threat to them or their family, it's considered stalking. "Placing a person under surveillance" includes being outside their usual locations or placing an electronic tracking device on the person or their property.

Illinois

720 ILCS 5/21-2.5

Trespass

In Illinois, it's prohibited to use an electronic tracking device to determine a person's location or movement. An "electronic tracking device" is defined as a device attached to a vehicle transmitting signals to reveal its location or movement.

Louisiana

La. R.S. § 14:323

Tracking devices prohibited; penalty

In Louisiana, it's illegal to use a tracking device to determine another person's location or movement without their consent. A "tracking device" is any tool transmitting signals to disclose its location or movement.

Maryland

Md. Stat. § 3-802

Stalking

In Maryland, stalking can occur in person, through electronic communication, or by using a device that tracks another person's location without their knowledge or consent.

Michigan

MCLS 750.5392Tracking device; placement or installment on motor vehicle without consent

In Michigan, it's illegal to place a tracking device on a motor vehicle without consent. A "tracking device" is any electronic tool designed to track a vehicle's location, regardless of recording capability.

Minnesota

Minn. Stat. § 626A.35

General pro-hibition on pen register, trap and trace device and mobile tracking device use

In Minnesota, using a tracking device without a court order is prohibited, with certain exceptions. A "mobile tracking device" refers to any tool that allows for the tracking of a person's or object's movement.

New Hampshire

N.H. Rev. Stat. § 644-A:4 Conditions of Use of Location Information

In New Hampshire, it's prohibited to place an electronic device on another person or their property without consent to obtain location information. An "electronic device" includes devices like cellular phones that access communication, computing, or location services.

New York

NY CLS Penal § 120.45

Stalking in the fourth degree

In New York, "following" encompasses unauthorized tracking of someone’s movements using a GPS or similar device. A person is guilty of fourth-degree stalking when they intentionally, without a valid reason, target a specific individual, causing them significant mental or emotional distress. This includes following or contacting them, especially after being clearly told to stop.

North Carolina

NCGS § 14-196.3

Cyberstalking

In North Carolina, it's unlawful to use, install, or cause an electronic tracking device to be used without consent to track another person's location. An "electronic tracking device" is any tool that allows someone to remotely track another person's position and movement

North Dakota

N.D. Cent. Code, § 12.1-17-07.1

Stalking

In North Dakota, stalking includes unauthorized tracking of a person's movements via GPS or other electronic means, especially if it would cause a reasonable person to feel frightened, intimidated, or harassed and lacks a legitimate purpose.

Oklahoma

21 Okl. St. § 1173

Stalking

In Oklahoma, "following" within the context of stalking includes tracking someone's movements or location using a GPS or other monitoring device without their consent. However, this doesn't apply to lawful uses of GPS devices, or when motor vehicle dealers or creditors use them in relation to vehicle credit sales, loans, or leases, provided they have the vehicle owner or lessee's written consent.

Oregon

ORS § 163.715

Offenses against persons

In Oregon, it's a crime to knowingly attach a GPS device to a motor vehicle without the owner's consent.

Rhode Island

R.I. Gen. Laws § 11-69-1

Electronic tracking of motor vehicles

In Rhode Island, it's an offense to knowingly use or place an electronic tracking device on a motor vehicle without the consent of both the operator and all occupants, if the intent is to monitor or follow them.

Tennessee

Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-13-606 

Electronic tracking of motor vehicles

In Tennessee, it's illegal to install, hide, or place a mobile tracking device in a motor vehicle.

Texas

Tex. Penal Code § 16.06

Unlawful installation of tracking device

In Texas, it's illegal to place a tracking device in a motor vehicle, though some exceptions apply. A "tracking device" is defined as any device that emits a signal used to identify or monitor the location of a person or object.

Utah

Utah Code § 76-9-408

Unlawful installation of a tracking device

In Utah, it's illegal for someone to knowingly install, or instruct another to install, a tracking device on a motor vehicle they don't own or lease without the permission of the vehicle's owner or lessee.

Virginia

In Virginia, it's illegal to use an electronic tracking device through deceptive means to track someone's location without their consent. An "electronic tracking device" refers to any tool that allows someone to remotely track another person's position and movement.

Washington

RCW § 98.90.130
Cyberstalking

In Washington, it's illegal to install or monitor an electronic tracking device with the intent to track another person if doing so would reasonably cause that person to feel fear.

Wisconsin

Wisc. Stat. § 940.315

Global positioning devices

In Wisconsin, it's a Class A misdemeanor to: (a) Place a GPS or GPS-equipped device on another person's owned or leased vehicle without their consent. (b) Intentionally acquire information about another person's location or movement from a GPS or GPS-equipped device that has been placed without that person's consent

Wyoming

Wyo. Stat. § 6-2-506

Stalking; penalty

In Wyoming, a person can be charged with stalking if they, with the intent to harass, engage in behaviors likely to harass someone else. This includes using electronic, digital, or GPS devices to surveil someone or monitor their internet or wireless activity without their authorization.

District of Columbia

In Washington D.C., it's unlawful for someone to deliberately engage in actions aimed at a specific person, which includes monitoring them or placing them under surveillance on two or more occasions. "Any device" used for such purposes encompasses electronic, mechanical, digital equipment, and more, including GPS, electronic monitoring systems, and other surveillance tools.

The unlawful installation of tracking software or hardware can be illegal in some states so if you are a private citizen interested in using an electronic tracking system to spy on a vehicle please contact a law firm in your area or a criminal defense attorney in your area of intended use to get the most accurate information regardingdevices to track a vehicle. Information in this article is not legal advice, and before you engage in any tracking applications it is best to with an expert in criminal law andunlawful installation of personal vehicle trackers.

GPS Tracking Laws By State Infographic

Supreme Court Federal Ruling On GPS Tracking Devices – The United States v. Antoine Jones (No. 10-1259)

In a landmark case, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously on January 23, 2012, requiring search warrants for tracking devices. This decision marked a significant shift in privacy law. The case involved Antoine Jones, whose vehicle was monitored by the FBI and local police using a hidden GPS device.. Jones’s defense lawyer argued that his client’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated by continuous vehicle tracking without a warrant.

The joint task forces used the GPS tracker for 28 days to gather location information and establish Jones’s involvement in illegal drug activities. Lower courts initially deemed the tracking lawful, but the Supreme Court held a different perspective. Justice Antonin Scalia stated that the use of a government GPS to monitor Jones’s vehicle constituted a “search” under the Fourth Amendment, necessitating a valid search warrant in the absence of consent. As a result, the evidence obtained through the warrantless tracking was deemed inadmissible, leading to the overturning of Jones’s conviction.

This landmark decision established an important precedent regarding GPS tracking and privacy rights. It emphasized the requirement for law enforcement to obtain a search warrant before conducting prolonged vehicle surveillance using GPS devices, safeguarding individuals’ Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, if your teen driver is under the age of 18. However, some states require that the teenager be notified and consent to vehicle tracking if they live in your home and are adults while others require their consent.

Yes, GPS tracking can be used for fleet management purposes. It allows companies to monitor the movements of their vehicles and ensure driver safety. However, it’s important to comply with state laws and regulations regarding employee privacy and tracking.

No, it is generally illegal to track the movements of another person’s vehicle without their consent. This is considered a violation of their privacy rights and can result in criminal charges or fines. It’s important to always obtain consent before tracking another person’s vehicle.

GPS tracking laws carry varying penalties depending on the state and the specific circumstances of the violation. In California, using a tracking device to determine a vehicle’s location without the owner’s consent is illegal and can result in fines of up to $2,500 and/or imprisonment for up to one year.

Similarly, in Texas, using real-time GPS trackers to monitor a vehicle without consent or a court order is prohibited. Violators may face misdemeanor charges, punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.

In addition to criminal penalties, individuals who violate GPS tracking laws may also face civil lawsuits. Victims of unlawful GPS tracking can seek damages for invasion of privacy and emotional distress. Therefore, understand and comply with your state’s specific laws to avoid legal consequences. Additionally, this helps prevent potential civil liabilities.

Legal Disclaimer

The information presented in this article is solely for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. GPS tracking laws can vary by state and are subject to change. It is crucial that you conduct thorough research and ensure compliance with the latest laws and regulations pertaining to GPS tracking in your specific jurisdiction. We strongly advise consulting with a licensed attorney or legal professional to obtain precise guidance tailored to your circumstances. Please be aware that the use of any electronic surveillance device is undertaken at your own risk and discretion. Tracking System Direct does not assume any liability for actions or decisions taken based on the information provided in this article

Matthew Henson
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