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Is It Illegal To Put a GPS Tracker On Someone’s Car In California

GPS Tracking Laws California – 2023 Legal Guide

There are a number of different reasons why people invest in GPS vehicle trackers. Maybe a person wants to track their wife without her knowing because they suspect she is cheating. Or maybe a small business is concerned an employee might be using a company vehicle without authorization. Regardless of the reason why an individual or business might choose to put a GPS tracker on someone’s car in California, the important question is whether or not doing so is legal. With so much confusion about GPS tracking laws, our security experts decided to provide some basic information about if it is legal to put a tracking device on someone’s vehicle in California. So if you are thinking about using a GPS tracking system to secretly track a vehicle then this is the article for you.

Related Article: 7 Best Real Time GPS Trackers For Cars 2023

Is GPS Tracking Legal In California?

When it comes to GPS tracking laws in California the laws are not very clear. That is the first thing to be aware of if you are thinking about putting a GPS tracker on someone’s vehicle. For example, California GPS tracking laws state that it is a misdemeanor to place a tracking device inside a vehicle, but that does not apply if you are the owner of the vehicle. According to California Penal Code 637.7 which addresses the legality of putting a GPS tracker on someone’s car in California, “shall not apply when the registered owner, lessor, or lessee of a vehicle has consented to the use of the electronic tracking device with respect to that vehicle.” That means if you or your company own the vehicle you can track that vehicle without informing the driver. In fact, this is how many car dealerships repo vehicles that are late on payments because they technically own the vehicle until the person pays the vehicle off.

Another grey area on GPS tracking laws in California is whether or not it is okay to place a tracking device outside of the vehicle if that vehicle is parked on public property. For example, it is a misdemeanor to place a GPS tracker inside a car you do not own or go into someone’s garage and place a vehicle tracker on the outside of that car. However, if the automobile is parked on a public street and the tracking device is placed on the outside of the vehicle then technically it is not illegal.

California Penal Code 637.7

(a)No person or entity in this state shall use an electronic tracking device to determine the location or movement of a person.

(b)This section shall not apply when the registered owner, lessor, or lessee of a vehicle has consented to the use of the electronic tracking device with respect to that vehicle.

(c)This section shall not apply to the lawful use of an electronic tracking device by a law enforcement agency.

(d)As used in this section, “electronic tracking device” means any device attached to a vehicle or other movable thing that reveals its location or movement by the transmission of electronic signals.

(Added by Stats. 1998, Ch. 449, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 1999.)

Related Content: GPS Tracking Laws In Each State

GPS Tracking Employees California – 10 Facts Employers Need To Know

  1. Employers can legally use GPS technology to track company-owned work vehicles in California.
  2. Employee consent is required before implementing GPS tracking of employees.
  3. Tracking employees using GPS must be for legitimate business purposes, such as vehicle tracking fleet management.
  4. Employers are required to notify employees about the use of vehicle location technology and monitoring devices.
  5. California law, including the California Constitution, protects employee privacy rights in the context of GPS tracking.
  6. Employers must not use data gathered from GPS tracking outside of work hours against employees.
  7. Unauthorized use of GPS tracking in violation of the applicable section in the California Penal Code can lead to civil penalties.
  8. Workers’ compensation benefits and other employee rights must be respected when using GPS tracking.
  9. Alternative devices and digital license plate technology must also comply with the same legal requirements as GPS tracking.
  10. Employers must stay updated on changes to California law, as the state may tighten rules on vehicle tracking and employee monitoring.

Anyone considering using a GPS tracker to secretly track a car should consult an attorney in their local area or area of intended use to get the latest information on GPS tracking laws in California. With the constant shift in GPS tracking laws in California and other states, it is important to get the most up-to-date information on the legal use of security products. Therefore, this article should not be taken as legal advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Using GPS Tracking Devices On A Teen Driver In California legal?

Yes, parents can generally use GPS tracking systems to monitor their teen drivers in California, primarily for safety and to ensure responsible driving habits. Assuming the teenager is under the age of 18. However, it’s crucial to balance the benefits of location tracking with respecting your teen’s privacy rights. Open communication about the reasons for using a GPS car tracker and discussing expectations with your teen can help maintain trust. Stay updated on changes to the California Penal Code and consult an intellectual property law expert for the most accurate information on using GPS devices for monitoring teen drivers.

Can I Legally Track My Spouse’s Vehicle Using A Hidden GPS Tracker In California?

Technically no. Why? Because tracking your spouse’s vehicle without their consent is generally prohibited in California. The unauthorized use of GPS devices for tracking purposes violates California Penal Code Section 637.7. Those who infringe on this code section may face civil penalties. However, if are the registered owner, lessor, or lessee, and wanted to equip a GPS vehicle tracker on that automobile for auto theft prevention, that could give you a loophole. As long as you were clear that your intention was for vehicle security not for secretly tracking your spouse.

Can Employers Track Employees’ Work Vehicles Using GPS Fleet Management Tools In California?

Yes, employers in California can legally use GPS devices to track company-owned work vehicles. However, compliance with California employment law is crucial. Employers must notify employees of the GPS monitoring, obtain their consent, and ensure the tracking is for legitimate business purposes. National law firm Jackson Lewis PC provides helpful resources on this topic. Furthermore, employers must adhere to the California Consumer Privacy Act and protect employees’ personal information.

How Does California Law Protect Employees’ Privacy When Using GPS Trackers?

California law, including the California Constitution, safeguards employees’ privacy rights. Employers must notify employees and obtain their consent before implementing GPS tracking. Additionally, data gathered outside of work hours should not be used against employees, ensuring their privacy during personal time. Employers must also respect workers’ compensation benefits and other employee rights, which can include limiting the usage of location tracking devices.

Are Alternative Devices Or Tracking Apps Allowed For Monitoring Employees In California?

Yes, alternative devices and tracking apps can be used for monitoring employees in California, as long as they comply with the same legal requirements as GPS devices. Employers must notify employees, obtain their consent, and ensure that the technology is used for legitimate business purposes. It’s essential to consult an intellectual property law expert to guarantee compliance with the California Penal Code and other relevant laws when using alternative devices or tracking apps for employee monitoring.

Disclaimer:The information provided in this article on location tracking, employment law, and related topics is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, laws and regulations, such as the California Penal Code section, intellectual property law, and the California Consumer Privacy Act, are subject to change. We are not responsible for any errors or omissions or for any actions taken based on the content provided in this article.

Please consult with a qualified attorney or law firm, such as Jackson Lewis PC, to obtain legal advice tailored to your specific situation. This article should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice, and reliance on the information provided in this article is solely at your own risk.

Jemele Williams
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