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GPS Tracking Laws In Ohio

Is It Legal To Put A GPS Tracker On Someone’s Car In Ohio?

Are you thinking about buying a GPS device to catch a cheating spouse or using GPS tracking devices to make sure employees are doing what they are supposed to be doing? If you are concerned about the legality of using an electronic surveillance tool such as a hidden tracker on the vehicle of your partner or employees then let us go over some things you need to know when it comes to GPS laws.

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Supreme Court Of Ohio Ruling On GPS

State v. Johnson Warrantless GPS Tracking 

In 2011, a Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy placed a tracker on a suspected drug trafficker’s vehicle to conduct electronic tracking. The background investigation determined that the suspect was in fact in possession and selling drugs. However, the suspect argued that his fourth amendment was violated when law enforcement used a warrantless GPS.  The court ruled in favor of law enforcement where the Ohio Supreme Court would hear the oral argument. What the Supreme Court of Ohio ruled was the same as in the lower court of appeals in that the police who used the tracker without a warrant did so in good faith that their actions were legal. The evidence from the GPS tracking device was deemed admissible (as it was during the trial courts), and a new precedent was set with Ohio law.

Related Content: Is It Legal To Track Your Spouse?

Track A Spouse In The State Of Ohio

If you believe your spouse might be having an affair you probably considered investing in a hidden camera or spy apps for cell phones to record text messages. But the reality is the best way to catch a cheating spouse is with a GPS tracking system. However, how a person uses video surveillance or hidden GPS devices will determine if the act itself is legal or illegal. For example, a person can’t go onto the property of a private citizen and place a tracker inside or outside of the vehicle. Nope! That would be considered an illegal act since the placement of the device occurred on private property. But what about equipping a GPS to a car when the vehicle is not on private property?

When the Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy placed a GPS device on a suspected drug trafficker’s car he did it when the car was on public property as to not break federal laws related to searches and seizures. He also made sure that the device was on the outside, not the inside of the vehicle, as it would require a search warrant to enter someone’s vehicle you do not own. So what does all this mean for tracking a cheating spouse?

  • If a person owns the vehicle they can track it legally. It is their property.
  • You can not place a GPS inside a car without the owner’ of the vehicle’s permission. 
  • If a vehicle is on public property, you can place a tracker on the outside of the car. 

As you can see from above, the circumstances really determine if it is legal to put a hidden GPS on someone’s vehicle in Ohio. However, it is also important to note that the Supreme Court decision could also change as the legal issue and laws concerning the use of electronic surveillance continue to evolve. That is why we encourage you to contact a lawyers association in the area where you intend to use any electronic tracking system and not consider this articlre’s legal advice.