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GPS Tracking Laws Washington State

GPS Tracking Laws Washington State Legal Guide

Are you worried your wife or girlfriend might be cheating? Or maybe you have an employee you think might be misusing a company vehicle? These situations happen every day to married and business owners and are the reason why so many people invest in tracking devices for vehicles. But before you become your own private investigator and hide a GPS tracker on a car, it is important you know the GPS tracking laws Washington State has to avoid any potential criminal charges. So let’s take a deeper dive into employment law and electronic tracking when it comes to spying on a work or personal vehicle!

Can You Track Your Wife In The State Of Washington?

This really depends on the situation. If you own the vehicle, you can install a hidden camera, video surveillance system, or GPS tracker for security. However, future law changes might require you to get the driver’s consent. This requirement won’t apply if the driver is your child under 18, ensuring you comply with the 4th Amendment. Generally speaking, if you own the vehicle you can track the vehicle. However, you can not use any tracking device for stalking purposes per Washington State legislation.

What If I Don’t Own The Vehicle?

If you are not the owner of the vehicle, communication devices, security cameras, or electronic monitoring apps can not be installed inside the automobile. Now, this is where things get a little tricky. If a tracker is placed on the outside of the automobile (while the vehicle is parked on public property) then the legislative information falls within a gray area.

Legal Considerations for Electronic Surveillance During Divorce in Washington State

Cell phones, spyware, tracking devices, and smartphone apps let you spy on others like never before. In a messy divorce, you might be tempted to use electronic surveillance on your ex. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you should—or that it’s legal.

Washington State laws and federal laws address various spying and eavesdropping activities. Before setting up surveillance on your ex, proceed with caution. If you’re divorcing, avoid sharing anything you wouldn’t want in court digitally.

Laws in this area are evolving and not clearly understood. States have different standards for what constitutes an invasion of privacy. For example, Washington requires both parties to agree to be recorded, while some states require only one party.

Can Washington Employer Legally Track Your Car?

Your employer can legally track your car if the company owns the vehicle. Since a vehicle is company property, they can monitor it for legitimate business purposes. However, you have a reasonable exception to privacy regarding your personal vehicle.

Related Content: How To Secretly Track Someone’s Car

RCW 9A.46.110: Stalking and GPS Car Trackers In Washington

Stalking Defined

Stalking occurs when a person intentionally and repeatedly harasses, follows, tracks, or monitors another person without lawful authority. This includes contacting, following, tracking, or monitoring someone after being explicitly told not to. It also covers installing or monitoring an electronic tracking device without consent.

Emotional Distress Requirement

The victim must suffer substantial emotional distress or fear of injury to themselves or their property due to the stalker’s actions. This distress must be significant enough that a reasonable person in the same situation would experience it.

Exceptions and Defenses

It’s not a defense if the stalker was not notified or didn’t intend to cause distress. Licensed private investigators are exempt when acting within their licensed capacity.

Exemptions

Law enforcement, judicial officers, probation or parole officers, or other public employees performing official duties are exempt. Tracking authorized by a court order is also exempt. Guardians tracking a disabled adult, parents tracking minors (unless restricted by a court order), employers, schools, or organizations tracking their provided devices, and owners of fleet vehicles tracking their vehicles are all exempt.

Penalties

Gross Misdemeanor: General stalking without any aggravating factors.

Class B Felony:

  • Prior harassment convictions.
  • Violates a protective order.
  • Prior stalking convictions.
  • Stalker was armed.
  • Victim is a law enforcement officer, judge, juror, attorney, or related professional.
  • Victim is a witness or prospective witness.

Definitions

  • Electronic Tracking Device: A device allowing remote monitoring of a person’s location.
  • Substantial Emotional Distress: Reactions such as anxiety or apprehension that degrade the victim’s quality of life.

Learn more about GPS tracking laws Washington State here: https://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=9A.46.110.5B

Attorney At Law On Electronic Tracking Devices In WA

Businesses and consumers will continue to utilize electronic surveillance devices in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue, Kent, Everett, Spokane, and cities throughout the Pacific Northwest territory. However, when it comes to electronic communication, GPS tracking laws in the Superior Courts are constantly evolving. That is why you should schedule a phone conversation with an attorney at law in Washington or a law firm that can provide more details regarding GPS laws.

This article is not intended to be legal advice for the use of an electronic tracking device. We at Tracking System Direct strongly advise you to speak with a licensed attorney before using any surveillance products.

Matthew Henson
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