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Thursday, June 07, 2018

A Florida Private Investigator Can Install A GPS Tracking Device on a Vehicle Only if the Owner of the Vehicle Directs the Installation of the GPS.

A GPS tracking unit is a device, normally carried by a moving vehicle or person, that uses the Global Positioning System to determine and track its precise location, and that of its carrier. The recorded location data can be stored within the tracking unit, or it may be transmitted to a central location data base, or Internet-connected computer, using a cellular, radio, or satellite modem embedded in the unit. This allows the carrier’s location to be displayed against a map backdrop either in real time or when analyzing the track later, using GPS tracking software. Data tracking software is available for smartphones with GPS capability.
A Florida Private Investigator Can Install A GPS Tracking Device on a Vehicle Only if the Owner of the Vehicle Directs the Installation of a GPS. In response to frequent requests by potential clients to have me put a GPS tracking device on their wife/husband, ex-wife/ex-husband or girl friend/boy friends vehicle, the overall answer is it is illegal in Florida as per Statute 934.425 Installation of tracking devices or tracking applications; exceptions; penalties, except when one of the parties is the actual owner of the vehicle. So, for example, if a husband and wife jointly own a vehicle together, then under this new law, either one of them may direct a private investigator to install a GPS tracking device on that vehicle, regardless of whether the other party knows of, or consents to the installation. Keep in mind that this does not mean that as a private investigator, you can simply attach a GPS unit onto your subject’s car in an effort to make physical surveillance easier (or even totally unnecessary) just because your client happens to be a co-owner of the vehicle. The plain-wording of the statute requires that the client must explicitly direct the installation of the device, and even then, an investigator who values their license would do well to get that instruction from their client in writing. Any PI with experience in marital infidelity cases knows that, once the dust settles, reconciliation between spouses is not uncommon, and that clients will often unabashedly throw the private investigator under the bus if it means staying in the good graces of their partner. see http://investigatorclass.com/articles/florida-gps/

On October 1, 2015, a new GPS law (§934.425 F.S.) went into effect in Florida1. That law now makes it a criminal offense to knowingly install a tracking device or tracking application on another person’s property without that person’s knowledge or consent. Violation of this law is a second degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 60 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both. While this new law is fairly straightforward for those who take a moment to read it, there are a few things that Florida private investigators should pay particular attention to. For example, while the law does make it a crime to knowingly install a tracking device without the property owner’s consent, the statute only requires the consent of “an owner” of the property. It does not require the consent of “all owners.” Specifically, it states:
(4) This section does not apply to:
(e) An owner or lessee of a motor vehicle that installs, or directs the installation of, a tracking device or tracking application on such vehicle during the period of ownership or lease . . . 
There are a few other exemptions, such as those for parents of minor children, as well as caregivers for disabled adults and the elderly, but even then, strict conditions must be met before such installations would be allowed under the new law. But what seems to have many private investigators upset is the following wording in section (4)(d), which states:
(4) This section does not apply to:
(d) “A person acting in good faith on behalf of a business entity for a legitimate business purpose, such as the owner of a fleet of trucks, cabs et. This paragraph does not apply to a person engaged in private investigation, as defined in s. 493.6101, on behalf of another person unless such activities would otherwise be exempt under this subsection if performed by the person engaging the private investigator.”
see http://investigatorclass.com/articles/florida-gps/


The real intent in the exception is far less sinister. Without it, stalkers, jealous ex-partners and others who are legally prohibited from installing a GPS tracker on their victim’s vehicle could easily circumvent the law, simply by hiring a private investigator to install it for them. In turn, the private investigator could claim that they are a “business entity,” and that they installed the device for a “legitimate business purpose.” However, with this wording, a private investigator can only install a tracking device at the request of a client, if that client would legally be permitted to install the device themselves. Nothing unreasonable about that; private investigators should never want to be used as a tool to circumvent the law. The new GPS law also amended Chapter 493, the section of Florida law that regulates private investigators, adding: “Installation of a tracking device or tracking application in violation of s. 934.425” to the list of activities that constitute “grounds for disciplinary action” by the Division of Licensing2. see http://investigatorclass.com/articles/florida-gps/

 
Bill Warner wbipi@verizon.net Bill Warner Private Investigator Sarasota 941-926-1926 - SEX, CRIME, CHEATERS & TERRORISM at www.wbipi.com