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GPS Tracking Laws South Carolina

GPS Tracking Laws South Carolina: Staying Within Legal Boundaries

What You Need To Know About South Carolina GPS Tracking Laws

Across South Carolina, from Mount Pleasant to North Charleston, people are turning to car GPS trackers for answers. Whether you’re a concerned husband in Greenville suspecting infidelity or a parent in Hilton Head Island wanting to track a teen driver discreetly, vehicle tracking technology can be beneficial. If you find yourself in a family law dispute, domestic violence situation, or heated child custody case, you might consider buying a GPS device but worry about South Carolina law. So, is it illegal to place a car GPS tracker in someone’s car in South Carolina? In this article, we’ll give you a comprehensive overview of GPS tracking laws in South Carolina, addressing common questions and concerns.

Smallest GPS Tracker

GPS Tracking Laws in South Carolina: Dos and Don’ts

South Carolina GPS Tracking Laws

GPS laws can be a little tricky. Therefore, use these “dos and don’ts” as a guideline to follow if you are considering the use of a GPS device to secretly track a car


  • Obtain consent before tracking someone’s location with a GPS device
  • Use GPS trackers on vehicles owned or leased by you or your business
  • Track your loved ones’ vehicles for safety purposes, especially minor children
  • Utilize GPS technologies responsibly and with respect for privacy
  • Comply with the penal code and other legal requirements


  • Place a GPS tracker on someone’s vehicle without their consent
  • Use electronic or mechanical tracking devices to monitor a person’s location without their knowledge
  • Track the movements or location of a person or object without proper authorization
  • Determine the location or movement of a person without probable cause
  • Rely on GPS data as the sole basis for investigative or law enforcement actions without a warrant

Keep in mind that law enforcement officers must follow specific protocols and obtain warrants in certain situations involving GPS tracking. Always stay informed about South Carolina’s GPS laws and use global positioning systems responsibly.

South Carolina GPS Tracking Device Laws

Can you place a vehicle tracking device on someone’s car without them knowing? Say, for example, if you wanted to track the car of a cheating spouse. The answer is it depends. Here are some examples of legal and illegal uses of GPS tracking devices in South Carolina:

  • In South Carolina, you can put a tracking device inside or outside of any vehicle you own.
  • Businesses in South Carolina are allowed to equip company vehicles with GPS vehicle trackers if they own the vehicles.
  • It is legal to place a tracking device on a car you do not own but only when a) the tracking device is placed outside of the tracker-magnetic mount, and b) that vehicle is parked in a public street when the tracking system is equipped to the car.
  • South Carolina GPS tracking laws state it is illegal to place a tracking device inside a vehicle you do not own without consent.
  • If a vehicle is located on private property it is illegal to put a GPS tracker under the vehicle. In South Carolina, you would need to wait until the car is parked on a public road. 

It is important to note that federal law allows law enforcement agencies to equip a mobile tracking device on a private citizen’s vehicle for purposes of electronic surveillance. The vehicle owner does not need to be notified as long as the police first obtain a search warrant (Fourth Amendment) to conduct the electronic monitoring of that vehicle.

GPS Tracking Laws South Carolina

South Carolina Statute For GPS Tracking

GPS Monitoring Device Legal Updates

In South Carolina, GPS tracking laws are covered under SECTION 1, Article 7, Chapter 17, Title 16 of the 1976 Code, as amended by adding Section 16-17-485. Key points from this statute are as follows:

  • A ‘tracking device’ includes electronic devices, such as GPS trackers, designed to track a motor vehicle’s location, regardless of whether the information is recorded.
  • It’s illegal to install or place a tracking device on a motor vehicle without the owner’s or lessee’s knowledge and consent. Also, tracking a vehicle without the knowledge and consent of the owner or authorized operator is unlawful.

Keep in mind that South Carolina’s GPS tracking law has provisions that do not apply to specific uses of tracking devices. For instance, if a car GPS tracker offers motor vehicle tracking to provide mechanical, operational, directional, navigational, weather, or traffic information to the vehicle operator, the law’s provisions don’t apply.

For the complete 2011-2012 Bill 3384 on GPS tracking laws in South Carolina, please CLICK HERE

Secretly Track Car

Can I Go To Jail For Using A GPS Tracker In South Carolina – What You Should Know About GPS Laws

According to Section 16-17-485 if a person illegally puts a tracker on someone’s vehicle they will be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than one year.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can a private investigator in South Carolina legally use a GPS tracker on a specific person’s vehicle without consent?

No, private investigators in South Carolina cannot legally use GPS trackers on a specific person’s vehicle without consent. Unauthorized tracking violates South Carolina’s laws related to GPS tracking and electronic communication (S.C. Code Ann. § 17-30-20). Consent from the owner, lessor, or lessee of the vehicle is required to avoid legal complications.

Are there any notable court cases in South Carolina involving the use of GPS tracking devices?

Yes, a notable case in South Carolina involving GPS tracking devices is the 2012 Coca-Cola Bottling Co. case. In this case, Coca-Cola used GPS data to track and monitor a delivery truck, ultimately leading to the termination of an employee. The court upheld Coca-Cola’s use of GPS tracking, emphasizing the importance of disclosing GPS tracking policies to employees and using the data for legitimate business purposes.

Is it legal for a parent in South Carolina to use a GPS tracker for their child’s safety?

Yes, it is legal for parents in South Carolina to use GPS trackers to ensure their child’s safety. Parents may track their minor children without consent, as long as the primary purpose is to safeguard their well-being. However, it is essential to respect the child’s privacy and use the technology responsibly.

What are the penalties for unauthorized use of real time GPS trackers in South Carolina?

Violating South Carolina’s laws related to GPS tracking and electronic communication (S.C. Code Ann. § 17-30-20) can result in severe penalties. Offenders may face criminal charges, including fines and imprisonment, depending on the severity of the violation. Additionally, the aggrieved party may pursue a civil lawsuit for damages.


Please note that the information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. We encourage you to consult with a legal professional for guidance on your specific situation. While we strive to ensure the accuracy of the content, laws related to GPS devices and tracking can vary and may change over time. Remember, tracking someone’s vehicle without their consent or using electronic tracking devices for illegal purposes can lead to severe consequences. Always stay informed and respect the privacy of others when using GPS technology to track locations and movements.

Matthew Henson
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