Complete Guide to GPS tracking laws by state in 2024

Complete Guide to GPS tracking laws by state in 2024

As our reliance on technology continues to grow, GPS tracking systems have become integral to various industries and aspects of daily life. Whether you're a business owner managing a fleet of vehicles, an individual utilizing GPS for personal navigation, or a curious newcomer exploring the world of tracking, understanding the legal framework is essential to ensure compliance and responsible usage.

The use of GPS tracking technology has expanded significantly, with applications ranging from improving logistics and efficiency in transportation to enhancing personal safety and security. However, with this technological evolution comes the responsibility to adhere to the legal guidelines established by individual states.

In this detailed article, we will navigate the intricate web of GPS tracking laws, providing a state-by-state breakdown to keep you well-informed.

Understanding GPS Tracking Laws by Different States

GPS trackers are not subject to such stringent legislation in the United States. Although, there are several references to them in various state statutes. Although state laws differ in wording, the bottom line is as follows:

  • It is legal to install GPS in a vehicle you own and use for personal purposes.
  • You can legally install a GPS tracker in a car/truck that your employee uses - provided you are the owner. 
  • It is typically legal to install GPS in a fleet vehicle you own but driven by a contractor.
  • Also, it's always almost illegal to use a GPS device to track another company's assets. 

Alabama

As per section 13A-11-32, a person who intentionally engages in surveillance while trespassing in a private area can be charged with "criminal surveillance."

Alaska

In Alaska, it is illegal to install a device to observe, document, or photograph events occurring in someone's home, vehicle, or workplace without permission. 

Furthermore, they go far beyond the scope of that person's authorization. It becomes stalking in the second degree.

Arizona 

Stalking is the continuous use of a digital electronic device or GPS device without permission to monitor a particular individual for at least 12 hours.

Arkansas 

Not found. 

California

No GPS tracking device can determine the location of a person whose registration, lessee, or lessor does not match the vehicle. On the other hand, a law enforcement agency can use an electronic power steering device for legal purposes.

Colorado 

According to Bonnie's law, stalking occurs when a person keeps another person under surveillance using electronic surveillance to learn the person's whereabouts and exchanges information with the stalker either instantaneously or shortly after.

Connecticut 

A person may be charged with electronics stalking if they use a GPS device repeatedly and cause another person to fear for their physical safety.

Delaware

Installing an electronic tracking device on a moving vehicle without the approval of the registered proprietor, lessor, or lessee is a class A misdemeanor and a Class G felony. Exemptions to this law include law enforcement officers conducting lawful tracking and a parent or legal guardian.

District Of Columbia 

It is illegal to use GPS devices to identify others without permission.

Florida 

There is a fine for installing a GPS tracking device on another person's vehicle without permission. However, there are a few exceptions to the rule.

Georgia 

Not found. 

Hawaii

If a person is stalking another individual with a GPS tracking device to harass, annoy, or alarm that person, that person is deemed guilty of stalking.

Idaho 

It is illegal to intercept or disclose any tracking device.

Illinois

It is not legal to use an electronic tracking device to determine the location of any person at any time.

Indiana

IC 35-33-5 authorizes using of an electronic tracking device to determine the location of another person or object for legal purposes.

Iowa

It is illegal in Iowa to place a GPS device on somebody without their consent.

Kansas

Not found. 

Kentucky

Under Chapter 456, "civil orders of protection," a person must wear a GPS device system that does not interfere with their bodily integrity to determine their location.

Louisiana

Senate Bill 123 defines GPS as a personal electronic device that transmits latitude and longitude. However, it should not intrude on or violate a person's integrity.

Maine

Stalking, according to the law, is a curse of action in which a person directly or indirectly follows, surveils, or examines a person without their consent to the point where they become concerned for their safety.

Maryland 

Unclear.

Massachusetts

Anyone who uses an electronic communication device to track or threaten another person faces up to five years in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Michigan 

A stalker is someone who installs a tracking device on another person's vehicle without their permission. They will also face a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Minnesota

It is illegal to use an electronic device, such as a tracking device, to track somebody without approval.

Mississippi

Stalking in the Mississippi law - is defined as an event in which someone uses an electronic tracking device to track another person when they begin to feel uneasy.

Missouri

Not found. 

Montana

In Montana, stalking means causing discomfort to another individual by using any electronic communication device, such as GPS.

Nebraska

For installing a tracking device, a court can issue a warrant.

Nevada

Nevada revised statute 179.451 permits tracking individuals and objects using a GPS device.

New Hampshire

Under Hampshire law, it is illegal for government agencies to install electronic tracking devices to provide civilian information without a court-issued warrant.

New Jersey 

Under Title 2A, New Jersey's amended law, law enforcement agencies can use electronic devices to track the whereabouts of potential criminals. But they should have a legitimate purpose for it.

New Mexico

Under New Mexico law, if you use an electronic tracking device to track someone to hurt an unauthorized person, that person is a stalker.

New York 

It is illegal in New York to use an electronic tracking device to ascertain a person's location without authorization.

North Carolina

Using electronic tracking devices without another person's consent is illegal.

North Dakota

In North Dakota, stalking means the unauthorized tracking of a person's location to the point where they become fearful or intimidated.

Ohio

It is illegal to install a monitoring device to track somebody without approval. 

Oklahoma

Ambiguous.

Oregon

You cannot track anyone using a GPS tracker without a court-issued warrant.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law requires anyone who wants to use a GPS tracker to obtain a written receipt from an investigator or law enforcement agency.

Rhode Island

It is illegal to install, conceal, or place a GPS tracking device on another person's vehicle without permission.

South Carolina

If a person is caught using a GPS tracker to spy on someone, they will face penalties under Section 17-30-50.

South Dakota

A magistrate's warrant is required to install a GPS device.

Tennessee

It is a crime to install, hide or install an electronic tracking device in a car without the owner's permission.

Texas

It is illegal for anyone to install a GPS device on a motor vehicle when they're not the owner or lessor.

Utah

It is legal to use a GPS tracking device to monitor someone for legitimate purposes.

Vermont

Unclear.

Virginia

If a person is caught using a tracking device to monitor somebody without their permission, they will face a penalty.

Washington 

One can use a GPS device to locate someone for a legitimate reason.

West Virginia

It is illegal to track someone without consent using an electronic GPS device.

Wisconsin

Stalking is a behavior in which someone uses a GPS unit to track somebody without their permission.

Wyoming

It is illegal to track someone without consent using an electronic GPS device.

Disagreements Over GPS Tracker Misuse

  • Elgin VS Coca-Cola Bottling Co. 2005 - In a 2005 case, an employee filed a lawsuit against their employer for tracking them after office hours. The decision was ruled in favor of the employer by the court. That's because the owner of the vehicle was the employer's organization. 
  • Tubbs VS Wynn Transport 2007 - An employee brought a similar case to court. The employee claimed that the employer was tracking the company-owned vehicle he was driving without his permission. For the same reason, the court sided with the employer once more.
  • United States VS Jones 2011 - An unusual case was brought in the court against the police for using a GPS tracker on the vehicle owned by a suspected drug trafficker. The rulings were against the law enforcement agency. Why? As the act was a violation of the fourth amendment of human rights. 
  • United States VS Katzin 2013 - Police placed a GPS tracker on a suspect - leading to a lawsuit against them. The Katzin brothers were successful in court. Why? Because they violated the fourth amendment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal to use a GPS tracker to monitor a spouse?

The legality of using a GPS tracker to monitor a spouse varies by state. In some states, it is legal as long as the vehicle being tracked is jointly owned, while in others it may be considered a violation of privacy or stalking.

Can employers use GPS trackers to monitor employees?

Employers can use GPS trackers to monitor employees, but they must notify employees of the tracking and the information collected must be used for legitimate business purposes.

Are there any restrictions on using GPS trackers on rental vehicles?

Some rental car companies may have restrictions on the use of GPS trackers, so it is important to check with the rental company before installing a GPS tracker on a rental vehicle.

Are there any restrictions on using GPS trackers on company-owned vehicles?

Employers can generally use GPS trackers on company-owned vehicles, but they must notify employees of the tracking and the information collected must be used for legitimate business purposes.

Can law enforcement use GPS trackers without a warrant?

The legality of using GPS trackers without a warrant varies by state and the circumstances of the case. In general, law enforcement must obtain a warrant before using a GPS tracker to monitor a suspect's location.

Are there any restrictions on using GPS trackers on personal property?

The legality of using GPS trackers on personal property varies by state. In general, it is legal to use a GPS tracker on property that you own or have permission to monitor, but it may be considered a violation of privacy to use a GPS tracker on someone else's property without their consent.

Conclusion 

As the preceding explanations show, there is no evident law regarding GPS trackers. Its use is subject to state-specific restrictions. 

However, there are some exceptions to such limitations. 

  • You have jurisdiction over the individual, 
  • you own the vehicle, 
  • Or you have a court-issued warrant.

You can legally use a GPS tracker if any of the above apply to you. Furthermore, you are not subject to such laws if you want a tracking system for your asset or vehicle. Choose a dependable GPS tracker for peace of mind.

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