Is GPS Tracking Legal?

When appropriate for the circumstances, we will often recommend GPS tracking to our clients.  Without fail, the most common response to this suggestion is some version of,

“Is that legal?”

The quick answer is usually, “Yes. Under these circumstances it is.” If I wasn’t as polite and reserved as I am, I would add, “I’m a police lieutenant with 25 years on the job.  Do you really think I’m going to jeopardize my career by doing something illegal for you?”

“Is GPS tracking illegal?” is actually a very good question to hear out of a prospective client, because it indicates to me that they are interested in staying on the right side of the law…and that is a place where I intend on staying.  The fact is, there are many circumstances where GPS tracking is clearly not legal.  At the same time, there are several situations where putting a GPS tracker on a vehicle is permissible under the law.  The laws regarding GPS tracking are complex (and gray in some instances).  The answer to the question usually can’t be given until we get answers to questions of our own (Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?).  And then the answer will usually be preceded by if, unless, as long as, or it depends on.  

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