Vehicle Tracking System

GPS Tracking Laws Michigan

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GPS Tracking Laws In Michigan

If you want to track your spouses’ car for the purpose of obtaining information on if they are cheating then you probably know about GPS tracking devices. Commonly used by private investigators, tracking devices report everywhere a driver goes, how long they stayed at each location and the exact address of each location. There really is no easier or better way to catch a cheating spouse or partner than with a vehicle tracking system. But before you invest in a GPS device for securing evidence of infidelity it is important to know a little about the penal code passed by the Michigan legislature regarding property law. So is GPS tracking legal in Michigan? Let’s take a closer look at the law!

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GPS Trackers

Is It Illegal To Put A GPS Tracker On Someone’s Car In Michigan?

Parents of Teen Drivers: According to physical surveillance laws in Michigan, parents or guardians can utilize GPS vehicle trackers to observe a teen driver without a child’s permission. So if you are worried your teen might be driving dangerously you can legally spy on them with a tracking system. See MCL § 750.539l(2)(f)

Michigan Private Investigators & Police: Law enforcement and investigative firms can legally track a motor vehicle operated by anyone as long as they follow certain legal protocols such as first obtaining a warrant before tracking a vehicle operated or occupied by another person. See MCL § 750.539l(2)(g), (j)

Spouse Tracking: According to the legal language regarding Michigan GPS car tracker usage, it is illegal to install a vehicle tracker when a motor vehicle is leased or owned by someone else without consent. The reason is breaking and entering a vehicle to track said vehicle violates knowledge and consent laws. However, if the operator of that motor vehicle does not give consent but the tracker is placed outside of the car while parked on public property then there is a gray area so-to-speak in regards to lawfully performing surveillance.  See MCL§ 539l(1)(a), (b)

Related Content: 7 Best Spouse GPS Tracking Devices For 2021

Penalty For Illegally GPS Tracking Cars In Michigan

Under Michigan law, crimes or wrongs from illegally using a tracking device are classified as a misdemeanor offense that is:

Punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $1,000.00.”  

It is 100% legal to buy a vehicle tracking device and if you place the tracker on the outside of the car there are loopholes that could allow you to spy on the car without consent. However, if you are worried about a person or legal entity coming after you due to the illegal use of a tracker then it is best to hire a licensed private investigator. 

Are Phone Tracking Apps Legal Michigan?

While Michigan courts thus far have not specifically addressed whether a mobile app for iPhone or Android can be classified as a “tracking device” within the GPS statute, the broad language of the Michigan statute as it pertains to the words “electronic device” with the application of “used to track the location” seems to imply that cell phone apps are covered under Michigan law. So what exactly does that mean for a concerned spouse, officer, or investigating committee that wants to use spyware or mobile apps to track someone?

This means that if you are using a mobile app to secretly track someone’s cell phone while they are traveling in a vehicle you are essentially using a tracking system to secretly track the movements of that car. This would make the person who did not provide consent the victim of that crime. Therefore, it is important to be cautious when using surveillance apps for mobile phones for obtaining information with reference to Michigan GPS laws. 

Information contained in this article might not reflect current Michigan laws so the best practice is to consult with an attorney in your area before using any electronic device to spy on someone or hire an investigator for the purpose of GPS tracking a car.