Vehicle Tracking System

GPS Tracking Laws In Wisconsin

Wisconsin GPS Laws

Are GPS Trackers Legal In Wisconsin?

With the increasing popularity of GPS tracking systems, many consumers interested in this new form of monitoring technology may have asked themselves about the legality or potential laws surrounding vehicle tracking. Whether the user is a police enforcement agency, parent of a teenager, or spouse suspecting infidelity, it is important to understand the varying laws of using GPS tracking devices. First of all, buying a GPS car tracker is 100% legal, but how you use the device can determine if a law is being broken. Let’s take a closer look at GPS warrants,  employment law, and Wisconsin law if you want to track the movement of a cheating partner. 

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GPS Trackers

Wisconsin Law 940.315 On Global Positioning Devices

Workplace Privacy Data Management 

If you are an employer or business owner who wants to track an employee operating a vehicle owned by the company, Wisconsin labor laws regarding GPS tracking exempt, ” employer or business owner acting to track the movement or location of a motor vehicle owned, leased, or assigned for use by the employer or business owner.” That means you can track a company-owned vehicle without a persons’ consent. 

Law Enforcement

Whether it’s a real-time GPS or car tracker with no monthly fee, law enforcement agencies have been successfully capturing and monitoring burglars, drug traffickers, arsonists, and other criminals with these monitoring devices. Vehicle tracking devices are perfect tools for law enforcement agencies because most of them have 3 unique features:

  • Magnetic Mounts
  • Compact In Size
  • Waterproof Casing

These features are important because they allow law enforcement agencies to quickly place a GPS tracker upon a vehicle without having to enter the vehicle. The tracking system can be magnetically mounted underneath the vehicle to the frame and acquire GPS signals that are reflected off the ground. The vehicle can then be monitored from a remote location via the Internet (Real-time), or authorities can remove the vehicle tracker and view everywhere the vehicle has been (Passive).

When it comes to guidelines for the use of GPS technology by law enforcement the laws vary from state-to-state. For example, the Wisconsin Supreme Court said that Mequon Police who used a GPS device to acquire evidence did not need to first acquire a search warrant before placing the GPS tracker onto a suspect’s vehicle. Since many vehicle tracking devices are being placed outside of a car and roadways are considered public property, the state Supreme Court felt there was no reason for Mequon Police to obtain a warrant. However, the Supreme Court upholds Fourth Amendment was violated and required police in all states to first get a search warrant before using any GPS tracking device. 

Although most states have not passed legislation on whether a law enforcement agency must acquire a warrant to use a live GPS tracker on a suspect’s vehicle, many police departments have their own internal policy on the issue. GPS tracking laws are still very undefined at this point in time, however, now that the technology has become so precise, cheap, and accessible it will continue to be used as a tool for law enforcement agencies. Since tracking devices can do the monitoring work of 3 or 4 people, police departments will rely on the technology in a budget-cut era and use the data in the battle against crime.

Related Content: GPS Laws By State

Criminal Penalties For Improper GPS Usage In WI

What are the criminal penalties for improper GPS use in the state of Wisconsin? The answer is you would be found guilty of Class A misdemeanor. This is why in order to avoid GPS legal issues you should consult with an attorney before using a vehicle tracker. 

Track Spouse In Wisconsin

Can you legally track your spouse? Well, first know that the family code in Wisconsin states that “fault” is a zero factor in property division or other financial issues related to divorce. So even if you use a tracker and find out your spouse is cheating it won’t help your case. The GPS data will only satisfy your own curiosity. Now let’s dig a little deeper into the legality of tracking a spouse. Wisconsin law states that it is a Class A misdemeanor :

“(a) Places a global positioning device or a device equipped with global positioning technology on a vehicle owned or leased by another person without that person’s consent.”

But what if you own the vehicle? Then you can track the car without consent! But what if my partner’s car is parked on public property and I place the tracker under the vehicle? Then that is sort of a legal gray area and courts are still deciding on this. That is why you should strongly consider speaking with a licensed attorney in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Superior, Muskego, or whatever city you plan on secretly tracking a vehicle

Basically, every state allows GPS monitoring systems to be used legally by parents who want to monitor their teenage driver’s vehicles or employers who want to monitor employees in company vehicles. However, if you want to use a tracker to catch a cheating spouse you may want to consult an attorney before using a hidden GPS. The advantage of using GPS devices is that they can reveal many truths such as where a spouse was going, how long they were there, etc. Vehicle tracking devices have busted many cheating spouses and provided the answers that many spouses so desperately desire. However, the data may not be admissible in court if the data was gathered in an unlawful manner.

GPS tracking laws are still very much in a gray area, and since laws are constantly being changed the best thing to do is to consult a lawyer before using the technology. Content in this article is NOT legal advice