With the increasing popularity of GPS tracking systems, many consumers interested in this new form of monitoring technology may have asked themselves about the legality or potential laws surrounding vehicle tracking. Whether the user is a law enforcement agency, parent of a teenager, or spouse suspecting infidelity, understanding the varying laws of using a GPS tracking system is important.
Whether it’s a real-time GPS tracking system or passive GPS tracking system, law enforcement agencies have been successfully capturing and monitoring burglars, drug traffickers, arsonists, and other criminals with these monitoring devices. Vehicle tracking devices are perfect tools for law enforcement agencies because most of them have 3 unique features:
1. Magnetic Mounts
2. Compact In Size
3. Water-Resistant or Waterproof Casing
These features are important because they allow law enforcement agencies to quickly place the GPS tracker upon the vehicle without having to enter the vehicle. The tracking system can be magnetically mounted underneath the vehicle to the frame and acquire GPS signals that are reflected off the ground. The vehicle can then be monitored from a remote location via the Internet (Real-time GPS tracking systems), or authorities can remove the GPS tracker and view everywhere the vehicle has been (Passive GPS tracking systems).
When it comes to guidelines for the use of GPS tracking systems by law enforcement the laws vary from state-to-state. For example, in Wisconsin the state’s Supreme Court said that Wisconsin police departments do not need to acquire a warrant before placing a GPS tracker onto a suspect’s vehicle. Since many vehicle tracking devices are being placed outside of the vehicle and the roadways are considered public property, the state Supreme Court felt there was no reason for the police to obtain a warrant. However, the New York State Supreme Court had a differing opinion on the hot issue topic. In a 4-3 vote the New York State Supreme Court stated that law enforcement agencies must obtain a warrant if they were to use GPS tracking system technology on a suspect’s vehicle.