Vehicle Tracking and Private Investigations

One of the main questions we get on a daily basis is, “Can I track my spouse’s car?” The short answer is, if you are married, then yes. The longer answer depends on your living situation and a good opposing attorney will bring up the question of ownership. Trackers are common during private investigations. Let’s look at a few scenarios to help you answer this question.  


If you are married and living in the same house, then vehicle tracking is probably legal. This is the rule in Alabama. Other states have different rules so check with an attorney in your state. In Alabama, everything is owned jointly until the divorce is settled by a judge. I have seen some circumstances where couples were still married but separated and the question of ownership came up.   If you are separated, ownership of the vehicle may come into question. If you have started the separation process and dividing property, but you are still listed on the title as an owner, then tracking is legal. However, if you are not listed as the owner, harassment charges may be filed against you if a tracking device is found.  

“Technically, a legal argument can be made after reviewing current case law that you can legally place a GPS on your spouse’s vehicle and spy on her. Nonetheless, please keep in mind that your ex-wife can always find the GPS device, and then file a harassment charge against you. Thereafter, she can also file for a restraining order, and base her DV case on the underlying harassment case.”-Theodore Sliwinski, Attorney

Tracking Children  

Tracking your child, as long as your name is on the title of the vehicle, is completely legal. Most parents say, “We use Life360 and I know where my child is all the time.” This is common, but many times teens will leave their phone at a place where they are supposed to be, then go do nefarious things. Concerned parents should look at tracking the car to see if their child is being truthful and to keep them out of bad situations.   If your child purchased their own vehicle, but is still dependent on you for more than 50% of their living expenses, you are safe to track their vehicle. This when children are living at home while attending college or vocational school.  Some teens and young adults want freedom. This is fine but if you are paying the bills, then you still have the right to know where your child and vehicle are going.  

Though the word “tracking” may sound “dirty” and “creepy,” says therapist Emma Viglucci, it’s in fact, quite the opposite. “It’s not about being controlling, it’s about using it to be connected and properly support the children,” she says. “It’s just today’s norm.”- NY Post

Company  Vehicles  

A recent case came up where our client wanted to track her husband’s company car. She wanted us to watch who he was having lunch with and meeting after work. She and I met with her attorney. The attorney asked for copies of the Limited Liability Company Operating Agreement. After reviewing this document, we found that our client owned 50% of the company along with her husband.   The attorney said I was clear to place a tracker and to see what happens. He was meeting up with another woman after work and at times, they would go to a hotel during lunch hours. The evidence was so overwhelming that the opposing attorney never brought up the question of ownership.   Once again, the question comes to ownership. Company policies can also drive the tracking of vehicles. It is always best to consult with an attorney before placing a tracker.  

“A company can use GPS records to ensure that employees working in the field haven’t strayed from their duties. For example, an auditor can use GPS data to verify work and travel records. GPS is also often a tool used to check the movements of an employee accused of misconduct. In this case, the worker may not be aware he’s being tracked.”- John Papiewski

Bottom Line  

Tracking a spouse is legal as long as you are married. This rule is for Alabama so check your state laws before placing a tracker on your spouse’s car or phone

Tracking devices supply investigators with immediate location information to close cases faster with more accuracy

Tracking of company cars is legal as long as you are not invading the personal space of employees

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