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GPS Tracking Laws South Carolina

Is It Illegal To Put a Vehicle Tracker On Someone’s Car In South Carolina?

What You Need To Know About South Carolina GPS Tracking Laws

From Mount Pleasant to North Charleston, people all throughout South Carolina are turning to car GPS trackers to help them find out where vehicles are going. From a concerned husband in Greenville who thinks his wife could be having an affair, or a parent in Hilton Head Island looking to track a teen driver without them knowing, there is no shortage of individuals who can benefit from the use of vehicle tracking technology. If you are involved in a family law dispute, domestic violence situation, or ugly child custody case, you might be considering buying a GPS device, but are concerned about South Carolina law. But is it illegal to place a car GPS tracker in someone’s car in South Carolina? The answer is a little complicated but if you are looking to learn more about GPS tracking laws in South Carolina than you’ve come to the right place! 

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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 obtained a search warrant (Fourth Amendment) to conduct the electronic monitoring of that vehicle.  

South Carolina Statute For GPS Tracking

GPS Monitoring Device Legal Updates  

When it comes to GPS tracking laws in South Carolina the statute that addresses illegal and legal uses of vehicle surveillance technology is SECTION 1. Article 7, Chapter 17, Title 16 of the 1976 Code, which was amended by adding Section 16-17-485. Here are some important takeaways from the Statute governing the legal uses of tracking devices. 

  1. Tracking device‘ means an electronic device including, but not limited to, a global positioning system tracking device that is designed or intended for use to track the location of a motor vehicle regardless of whether that information is recorded.
  2. It is unlawful for a person to install or place a tracking device, or cause a tracking device to be installed or placed, in or on a motor vehicle without the knowledge and consent of the owner of the motor vehicle or, if the motor vehicle is leased, without the knowledge and consent of the lessee of the motor vehicle; and track the location of a motor vehicle with a tracking device without the knowledge and consent of either the owner or the authorized operator of the motor vehicle.

An important additional note to the South Carolina GPS tracking law is the provisions of the section do not apply to the installation or use of a tracking device. For example, if the car GPS tracker provides motor vehicle tracking for purposes of providing mechanical, operational, directional, navigational, weather, or traffic information to the operator of the motor vehicle.

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

Can I Go To Jail For Using A GPS Tracker In South Carolina?

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.

GPS Tracking Employees South Carolina

Companies strongly considering using GPS vehicle trackers to secretly track a car operated by employees should contact an attorney in South Carolina and receive legal advice from someone located in the location of intended use to access the latest info on GPS tracking laws in South Carolina. GPS tracking laws in South Carolina can be fluid are changes to privacy laws continue to evolve so it is very important anyone thinking about using a hidden GPS tracking device get access to the most current information with the legal use of automotive surveillance products. Therefore, this post on GPS tracking laws in South Carolina should not be considered as legal advice on whether it is lawful to track a vehicle in South Carolina. 

Related Article: GPS tracking laws in Texas

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