GPS Tracking – Warrant or Not?

August 31, 2010

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a case that effectively allows  police to secretly place global positioning system (GPS) tracking devices on vehicles without seeking a warrant from a judge.   In United States v. Pineda-Moreno  (591 F3d 1212),  Pineda-Moreno argued that sneaking onto his driveway and secretly placing a GPS tracking device to his car violated his reasonable expectation of privacy.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy to driveway; that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy to undercarriage of vehicle; that there was no reasonable expectation of privacy when parking vehicle on street or in parking lot; and that the use of a tracking device was not a search.  

Dissenting language from the order denying a rehearing enbanc ( 2010 WL 3169573) is passionate:

Having previously decimated the protections the Fourth Amendment accords to the home itself, United States v. Lemus, 596 F.3d 512 (9th Cir.2010) (Kozinski, C.J., dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc); United States v. Black, 482 F.3d 1044 (9th Cir.2007) (Kozinski, J., dissenting from the denial of rehearing en banc), our court now proceeds to dismantle the zone of privacy we enjoy in the home’s curtilage and in public. The needs of law enforcement, to which my colleagues seem inclined to refuse nothing, are quickly making personal privacy a distant memory.1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it’s here at last.

The same issue was argued in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.  This court held the opposite in the case United States v. Maynard, found at 2010 WL 3063788.    The court held that warrantless use of  (GPS) device on defendant’s vehicle for a month was a search and that the automobile exception to the warrant requirement did not apply to this search. 

 The issue could eventually end up in the United State Supreme Court. To find a number of cases on the topic of whether law enforcement  is required to get a warrant before placing a GPS tracking device on a car, try the following search.

Database:  ALLCASES

Search:       G.P.S. /S CAR AUTOMOBILE VEHICLE VAN TRUCK S.U.V. PICK-UP /S (NO NOT #WITHOUT FAIL! LACK! /5 WARRANT) WARRANTLESS SECRETLY.







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