GPS Tracking in the Family Law Context
From time to time, someone might think it "prudent" to place or install a GPS tracking device on their spouses motor vehicle. They want to know what he or she is doing with their "late hours." Usually, under a suspicion of after hour frolicking. Or, they are simply trying to harass the person. I recently added the following article to our website which may be found here: http://www.dallas-divorce-lawyer.com/GPS\_Tracking.htm. If you know anyone thinking of doing this, you might advise them to be a little careful about it all.
Installing a GPS Device to track your spouse or significant other? It is very easy and inexpensive to purchase, install, and use a GPS tracking device on a motor vehicle. The use of a GPS tracking device may or may not be legal. Its use may expose you to criminal jeopardy and/or civil liability. In Texas, it is legal as long as you own the car (the title is in your name) or you lease the car and the lease is in your name. Community property law, however, does not apply to this issue. If the title or lease to the car is in your wife's name it is illegal to place a GPS tracking device on the vehicle. Marriage does not provide a license to place a GPS device on the automobile. Installation of a tracking device may expose you to criminal penalty: Section 16.06 Texas Penal Codes states as follows: "(a) in this section: (1) "Electronic or mechanical tracking device" means a device capable of emitting an electronic frequency or other signal that may be used by a person to identify, monitor, or record the location of another person or object. (2) "Motor vehicle" has the meaning assigned by Section 501.002, Texas Transportation Code. (b) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly installs an electronic tracking device on a motor vehicle owned or leased by another person. (c) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor. (d) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under this section that the person: (1) obtained the effective consent of the owner or lessee of the motor vehicle before the electronic or mechanical tracking device was installed; (2) assisted another whom the person reasonably believed to be a peace officer authorized to install the device in the course of a criminal investigation or pursuant to an order of a court to gather information for a law enforcement agency; or (3) was a private investigator licensed under Chapter 1702, Texas Occupations Code, who installed the device: (A) had written consent (i) to install the device given by the owner or lessee of the motor vehicle; and (ii) to enter private residential property, if that entry was necessary to install the device, given by the owner or lessee of the property; or (B) pursuant to an order of or other authorization from a court to gather information. (e) This section does not apply to a peace officer who installed the device in the course of a criminal investigation or pursuant to an order of a court to gather information for a law enforcement agency. " In addition, placing a GPS tracking device on a vehicle that you do not own or lease to track another may expose you to civil liability - money damanges.