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

GPS Tracking Laws Texas – Legal Guide For 2023

Everything You Need To Know About GPS Tracking Laws In Texas

GPS car tracking devices are utilized for a number of applications by businesses and consumers throughout Texas. Maybe a person in San Antonio has a personal need to monitor his wife without her knowing based on his gut-feeling she is cheating. Or maybe a parent in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is concerned their teenager is driving recklessly so they want to track their son without him knowing. The reality is a criminal investigation, ugly Texas divorce, or nasty child custody case all might be reasons a private citizen would might turn to electronic surveillance. Regardless of the reason why a business or individual has a need to put a tracking device on someone’s car in Texas, the only question that matters is whether or not placing a GPS tracker on a vehicle is legal in Texas. In an effort to provide education regarding GPS tracking laws in Texas, our GPS experts created this article to give people some very basic information about if it is legal to put a GPS tracker on someone’s vehicle in Texas!

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Is It Legal To Put A Vehicle Tracker On Someone’s Car In Texas – Examples

Texas Law Regarding Unlawful Installation Of Tracking

One of the more popular questions our GPS tracking experts get asked is if it is illegal to put a GPS tracker on someone’s car in Texas, and the answer is:Yes and No. For example, if a person buys a tracking device and hides the tracker inside a car that is not owned by them then yes that would be illegal. In fact, it would be a misdemeanor in the great state of Texas. However, when it comes to hiding a GPS car tracker on someone’s vehicle in Texas there are multiple legal loopholes or shades of grey with the law. Here are a few examples of this:

  • In Texas, a person can place a car GPS tracker inside or outside of any automobile they own.
  • Texas businesses can use car tracking devices on company-owned vehicles.
  • You can legally hide a tracking device on a car you do not own only if 1) the GPS tracker is equipped to the outside of the vehicle, and 2) the car is parked on public property when the tracking device is placed under the car.
  • It is illegal to hide a GPS tracker inside a car you do not own as it is considered private property.
  • If a car is parked on private property you cannot legally place a GPS tracker under the vehicle. You must wait until the vehicle is parked in public.

Unlawful Installation of GPS trackers is defined inChapter 16.06 of the Texas Penal Codeas follows:

(b) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly installs an electronic or mechanical tracking device on a motor vehicle owned or leased by another person.

Basically, it is a crime to put a hidden GPS tracker inside a car that does not belong to you. Section 16.06(a)(2) says that “motor vehicle” has the meaning assigned by Section 501.002, Transportation Code.

The Punishment For Using A GPS Tracker Illegally In Texas

Illegal use of a vehicle tracking system is aClass A Misdemeanor in the state of Texas. Class A Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine (not exceeding $4,000). If you are found guilty of illegally placing a GPS tracker on someone’s car in Texas it is important that you consult a criminal attorney. The reason is that even if you already pleaded guilty, a criminal defense attorney will work on your behalf to obtain the lowest possible sentence.

Under Texas law, a law enforcement agency that reasonably believed a person was involved in some form of criminal activity (wiretap act) is authorized to install a GPS device as long as they first obtain a warrant. The unlawful installation of a tracking system on the vehicle of a private citizen could lead to a criminal investigation or pursuant to electronic communication.

Arguing Effective Consent From Owner or Lessee Of Vehicle In Texas

Effective Consentbasically means you receivedexplicit consentorimplied consent. If that sounds a little confusing let us try to break down that legal language. Effective consent means you directly informed the vehicle owner you would place a tracker on their car. For example, if you took the vehicle to an auto mechanic and asked them to equip a GPS tracker to the car, you have given them your express consent. Keep in mind that your criminal defense attorney will have to argue this defense.

On the other hand, effective consent many times can beimplied. An example of this would be if a parent “leased” a car to their teen driver, and used a tracking device for safety The minor might not have provided express consent, but because they are still a minor (under control of their parents) the consent is assumed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I GPS Tracking Employees In Texas?

Yes, you can GPS track employees’ vehicles in Texas with their consent and for a legitimate business purpose. However, it is essential to follow privacy laws and have a clear policy outlining the reasons, limitations, and expectations of the GPS tracking.

Can I Use A GPS Device To Catch A Cheating Partner In Texas?

Yes, you can use a vehicle tracking device to bust a cheating partner. But doing so may violate their privacy rights. Consent is crucial when you do not own the vehicle, and tracking someone without their knowledge could lead to criminal charges or civil lawsuits. The best advice? Consult with a legal professional before putting a spouse GPS tracker on someone’s car!

Are There Specific Texas Statutes That Regulate GPS Tracking?

Yes, Texas has a specific statute regulating GPS tracking: Texas Penal Code § 16.06. This law states that it is illegal to install a GPS tracking device on a vehicle without the owner’s consent, except for certain exemptions such as law enforcement. Violating this statute could result in criminal and civil consequences, so it’s crucial to be aware of the legal requirements.

How Can I Legally Use GPS Tracking In A Business Setting In Texas?

To legally use GPS tracking for company vehicles in Texas, you must have the employees’ consent and a legitimate business purpose. Examples include using a vehicle tracker for theft recovery purposes or to find out if a person commits a traffic violation in a company vehicle. What is the best practice for using a real-time GPS? Establish a clear policy outlining the reasons, limitations, and expectations of GPS tracking. That way there is no confusion about why you installed the device on a company vehicle. Following privacy laws and maintaining transparency with employees can help you stay within the boundaries of the law.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this article should not be considered legal advice. We strongly recommend consulting with a Texas business attorney and an attorney in the area of intent to obtain the most accurate and up-to-date information on GPS tracking laws in Texas. Legislation regarding GPS tracking laws can change frequently, so it is crucial to seek guidance from a legal professional before investing in tracking devices or employing vehicle surveillance products. The content of this article is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

Ryan Horban
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