GPS Tracking is it Okay?
There is not a week that goes by that I do not get asked the question, “Is it legal to use GPS Trackers on someone’s vehicle?” You should really be seeking the answer from the state you’re living in. Secondly, I am not an attorney so please get the appropriate advise, although most attorneys who do not deal with this on a regular basis usually do not have the answers without looking up case law. In Florida, my home state, the answer is yes. GPS Technology is legal with some of the following parameters. The biggest requests we receive are in the area of Cheating Spouses / Infidelity Investigations and Child Custody Cases, although this week we had a “concerned mom” wanting to know where “little Johnny” was at 1am with the family vehicle. So let’s answer this with a broad stroke approach. The person requesting the GPS Tracking service should have at a minimum partial ownership of the vehicle. So wife or husband suspects the other of cheating and requests that our agency stick a GPS tracker under the vehicle that they both own. This is pretty cut and dry because you have one of the owner’s permission. But let’s say the same situation but the parties are separated and there is only one name on the registration. In this case we would recommend that the tracker be placed underneath the vehicle but on a public street. The tracker is not hard wired to the vehicle but just attached to the outside of the vehicle. This can be anywhere underneath and attached to the vehicle frame for example. Recently we had a child custody case where one parent was trying to show that the other parent was stopping off at a bar on Fridays for Happy Hour after work and having a few drinks before picking up his kids for their weekend visit. In this case we attached the tracker under the rear bumper while he was inside the bar in a Public Parking lot. Evidence such as this can be used to help support a child endangerment action, in this case against the father.
The real issue surrounding the use of GPS Tracking devices is more “Violation of Privacy Issues” than anything else. When it comes to a Law Enforcement Agency (Police) which is really how all of this controversy started several years ago, they are required to have a Court Order giving them permission to attach such a device. Those states where Privacy Laws are more stringent are usually the states where you will see stricter controls on the use of GPS Trackers. So the rule of thumb as is the case here in Florida, if the vehicle is in a Public place and the tracker is not hard wired and one of the owners gives permission to use the tracker, then you’re on fairly safe legal grounds. Outside these basic guidelines it get’s sketchy so tread lightly!