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New York GPS Tracking Laws

GPS Tracking Laws In New York

New York Court Rules On GPS Trackers

Privacy advocates and law enforcement agencies have long been butted heads over the application of monitoring individuals via GPS trackers. Law enforcement agencies have strongly been in favor of the practice of covertly equipping potential criminal’s automobiles with GPS tracking units as a cost-effective way to gather evidence, and at the same time keep officers out of the line of danger. The same technology has also been helpful in protecting victims of domestic violence. On the other side of the argument, privacy advocates suggest that the practice of attaching GPS vehicle trackers onto a personal vehicle infringes on personal rights and freedoms. If you are thinking about using GPS devices to track a vehicle in the State of New York then here is the information you need to know!

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Secretly Tracking Vehicles In New York State

Is It Illegal To Track Someone Without Their Knowledge In New York?

If you own the automobile the answer is yes. Lower courts have already ruled that vehicle owners can legally use any form of Global Positioning System to monitor their cars. This is the reason many businesses can track employees without their knowledge or consent if the vehicles being used for work purposes are owned by the company This is also what appellate divisions ruled when it came to a spouse who wanted to find out if their husband or wife was cheating.

The gray area is if you use a hidden GPS tracker to monitor a vehicle you do not own. If you do not own the vehicle you cannot enter the automobile and hide the tracking system inside the car. However, people do not have a right to privacy in public so the gray area of the New York State laws is if a person equips a vehicle tracker on the outside of a car as long as it is not done on private property. This is what a hired private investigator does in order to avoid breaking the law.

If you enter a vehicle you do not own with the intention of tracking that person this would be an unlawful use of the technology. This is what happened to Jackie Wisniewski, a GPS stalking violent crimes victim, that resulted in New York passing Jackie’s Law.

Is GPS Tracking Illegal In NY?

GPS electronic devices that can be used to GPS track a vehicle are legal in the state of New York. However, buying a GPS tracker and using it lawfully are two different conversations. Using a vehicle tracking device to spy on someone’s’ vehicle, regardless of intent, is now a Class B misdemeanor. Police also have the option to move forward with prosecution even if the victim does not want to press charges. Those concerned about potentially using a car tracker unlawfully, planning to use a GPS for tracking employees, or GPS stalking should consult with an attorney before potentially violating someone’s fourth amendment rights.

Cities In New York State Where People Legally Use GPS Devices

  • New York City
  • Rocester
  • Yonkers
  • Syracuse
  • Albany
  • New Rochelle
  • Buffalo

Police Use Of GP To Track Suspects In New York

After reviewing evidence from an FBI investigation where the government agency used a GPS tracker to gather evidence on a drug trafficker, the highest court in the state of New York came out with a groundbreaking decision that would change the way law enforcement use GPS tracking devices.

The decision by the New York Court will have a lasting impact on the way police go about gathering evidence on criminal activity. After carefully reviewing the evidence and the route in which the New York law enforcement agents used GPS tracking technology, the New York Courts came to the conclusion that no police or law enforcement agency can use evidence gathered from a GPS vehicle tracking unit unless they first obtained a search warrant. The court made it very clear that a warrant must be obtained prior to the installation of a GPS car tracker.

The decision New York high courts made regarding the new steps that law enforcement must make prior to using GPS devices may have made it more difficult for police to conduct surveillance operations, but it does create some oversight on the controversial practice. For example, now a police officer must obtain a warrant prior to utilizing vehicle tracking technology in the car of any potential criminal. This one additional step is significant because it will force police authorities to first establish reasonable cause for why they want to use GPS tracking. This will eliminate potential violations of privacy and 4th Amendment Constitutional rights. Clearly, the topic of GPS tracking will continue to make headlines until each state outlines protocol, as well as at the Federal level, but one thing is for certain and that is GPS tracking devices have considerable value as a law enforcement tool and will therefore continue being used by investigators all across the globe.

Information contained in this article should not be considered legal advice! Anyone who wants to learn more about Jackie’s Law, the crime of stalking, or electronic monitoring in New York should contact an attorney. 

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