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Ask a Divorce Lawyer: Can I Attach a GPS Device to My Spouse’s Vehicle?


You may have gotten the idea from a television show or movie. Maybe a friend gave you the suggestion because your friend knows you are stressed and worried about what is happening. It would be easy enough — you can order it online and just slip it on the car then you will know everything. You will have the proof you want.

Whatever the reason, the thought of attaching a GPS device to your spouse or ex-spouse’s vehicle is probably tempting. There are probably many times you wished you could track your spouse to know what he or she is doing when they leave home. Is he lying to you about where he is going? Is she telling you the truth about who she is meeting? A GPS device would give you your spouse’s exact location but you must think twice before giving into the temptation before using a GPS device to track someone.

North Carolina’s New Law Regarding GPS Devices

The North Carolina legislature has clarified the use of GPS devices so there is no doubt whether you can use a GPS device to track someone. Lawmakers amended North Carolina General Statute §14-196.3 effective December 1, 2015 to add GPS devices to the definition of cyberstalking.

With very few and very limited exceptions, the new amendment makes using a GPS device to track someone a Class 2 misdemeanor. This includes using a GPS device that is attached to the car or hardwired into the cars electrical and/or navigational system.

If you use a GPS device of any type to track someone outside the bounds of the amended statute, you can be charged with the crime of cyberstalking. If you are found guilty of cyberstalking, you face criminal penalties and a permanent criminal record. Before you consider a GPS device to track your spouse or ex-spouse, you must consult with an experienced North Carolina divorce lawyer to discuss the exceptions to the newly amended statute.

Exceptions to North Carolina GPS Device Laws

As discussed above, there are a few very limited, specific exceptions to the cyberstalking law that includes GPS devices. The first exception is fairly clear. Parents can still track minor children by placing a GPS tracking device on the car driven by the minor child. However, the other exceptions are not as clear-cut.

The exception for a car title in your name or in your company’s name can pose problems. If you place a GPS device on a vehicle titled in your name but driven by your spouse, are you breaking the cyberstalking law? A licensed private investigator can place a GPS device on a car with the owner’s consent so a spouse with a car titled in his or her name only could technically track a spouse who is driving that car IF the spouse chooses to drive the vehicle. However, if the person is a victim of domestic violence, this exception does not apply.

You cannot, under any circumstances, track someone who is the victim of domestic violence. Even if the person is driving a vehicle titled solely in another person’s name, it is against the law to track a domestic violence victim. Because the laws regarding GPS devices are still complex, it is best to consult with a divorce lawyer before taking any action.

Contact an Experienced Jacksonville Divorce Lawyer

“Attorneys Who Aggressively Protect Your Rights”

The Trevor J. Avery Law Firm represents clients throughout Duplin County, Onslow County and the surrounding communities. If you need a divorce lawyer, our law firm can help. We handle cases related to all areas of North Carolina family law from premarital agreements, separations, and divorces to domestic support, child custody, and paternity actions.

Call our office at (910) 405-8459 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.