New York's top court ruled Tuesday that police cannot place GPS trackers on suspects' vehicles without first getting a court warrant showing probable cause that the drivers are up to no good.
The Court of Appeals split 4-3 on the issue, with the majority saying the tracker that state police planted on Scott Weaver's van for 65 days starting in 2005 violated his constitutional protections against unreasonable searches.
The ruling overturned both the trial court and a midlevel appeals court. Weaver has been free on bail.
"The massive invasion of privacy entailed by the prolonged use of the GPS device was inconsistent with even the slightest reasonable expectation of privacy," Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman wrote.
Judges Carmen Beauchamp Ciparick, Eugene Pigott Jr. and Theodore Jones Jr. agreed.
They rejected the argument that the satellite tracking device was essentially the same as common police surveillance of vehicles.