State Drone Law


Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Latest posts by Jonathan Rupprecht (see all)

Arkansas Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This page is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice!  The information may also not be complete. The laws are constantly changing. It might NOT be up to date. 

Want all the State Drone Laws in a PDF Download?

Traveling? Click here to see other US drone laws by state.

 Current as of February 21, 2017

Section 5-60-103.  Unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft system.

(a) As used in this section:

(1) “Critical infrastructure” means:

(A) An electrical power generation or delivery system;

(B) A petroleum refinery;

(C) A chemical or rubber manufacturing facility; or

(D) A petroleum or chemical storage facility; and

(2)  (A) “Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned, powered aircraft that:

(i) Does not carry a human operator;

(ii) Can be autonomous or remotely piloted or operated; and

(iii) Can be expendable or recoverable.

(B) “Unmanned aircraft system” does not include:

(i) A satellite orbiting the earth;

(ii) An unmanned aircraft system used by the federal government or a person who is acting pursuant to contract with the federal government to conduct surveillance of specific critical infrastructure;

(iii) An unmanned aircraft system used by the state after consultation with the Governor or a person who is acting under contract with the state to conduct surveillance of specific critical infrastructure;

(iv)  (a) An unmanned aircraft system used pursuant to prior written authorization of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.

(b) The department shall provide standards for authorizations under subdivision (a)(2)(B)(iv)(a) of this section in rules adopted in accordance with the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act, § 25-15-201 et seq., after consultation with the Governor;

(v) An unmanned aircraft system used under a certificate of authorization issued by the Federal Aviation Administration; or

(vi) An unmanned aircraft used by a law enforcement agency, emergency medical service agency, hazardous materials response team, disaster management agency, or other emergency management agency for the purpose of incident command, area reconnaissance, personnel and equipment deployment monitoring, training, or a related purpose.

(b) A person commits the offense of unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft system if he or she knowingly uses an unmanned aircraft system to conduct surveillance of, gather evidence or collect information about, or photographically or electronically record critical infrastructure without the prior written consent of the owner of the critical infrastructure.

(c) This section does not prohibit:

(1)  (A) A person from using an unmanned aircraft system to conduct surveillance of, gather evidence or collect information about, or photographically or electronically record his or her own property that is:

(i) Located on his or her own immovable property; or

(ii) Located on immovable property owned by another person under a valid lease, servitude, right-of-way, right of use, permit, license, or other right.

(B) A third person retained by the owner of the property described in subdivision (c)(1)(A) of this section to conduct activities described in subdivision (c)(1)(A) of this section is not prohibited under this section from using an unmanned aircraft system to conduct the activities described in this subdivision (c)(1); or

(2) An insurance company or a person acting on behalf of an insurance company from using an unmanned aircraft system for purposes of underwriting an insurance risk or investigating damage to insured property.

(d) Unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft system is:

(1) A Class B misdemeanor; or

(2) A Class A misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense.

 

Section 16-118-111.  Civil actions against operators of an unmanned aircraft system.

A person who violates § 5-60-103 is also liable to the owner of the critical infrastructure that is the subject of the violation as follows:

(1) Any actual damages sustained as a result of the violation, or ten thousand dollars ($10,000), whichever is greater;

(2) Three (3) times actual damages, or ten thousand dollars ($10,000), whichever is greater, in a case in which the violation resulted in profit or monetary gain; and

(3) The costs of an action brought under this section, together with reasonable attorney’s fees as determined by the court.


Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Latest posts by Jonathan Rupprecht (see all)

Alaska Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This page is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice!  The information may also not be complete. The laws are constantly changing. It might NOT be up to date. 

Want all the State Drone Laws in a PDF Download?

Traveling? Click here to see other US drone laws by state.

 Current as of February 21, 2017

Alaska’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Legislative Task Force (UASLTF)

Alaska Drone Operator Safety and Privacy Guidelines

FYI Alaska’s info has been hard to work with. HB 255 became law but it was difficult to use their website to even find some of the sections below.

 

Alaska State Statutes Sec. 14.40.082. Unmanned aircraft system training.

The University of Alaska may establish a training program in the operation of unmanned aircraft systems.

Article 13. LAW ENFORCEMENT USE OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS

Alaska State Statutes Sec. 18.65.900. Use of unmanned aircraft systems.

Except as provided in AS 18.65.900 – 18.65.909, a law enforcement agency may not use an unmanned aircraft system.

Alaska State Statutes Sec. 18.65.901. Operational requirements for unmanned aircraft systems.

(a) A law enforcement agency shall adopt procedures for the use of unmanned aircraft systems. The procedures adopted under this section must require, at a minimum, that the law enforcement agency

(1) obtain any authorization, permit, or certificate required by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate the unmanned aircraft system;
(2) allow the unmanned aircraft system to be operated only by unmanned aircraft system pilots and crew members who have been trained and certified in the operation of the unmanned aircraft system and only under the supervision of officials trained in the policies and procedures governing the use of the unmanned aircraft system;
(3) provide that the flight of an unmanned aircraft system be approved by the commissioner or deputy commissioner of public safety or the chief administrative officer of the law enforcement agency or the officer’s designee;
(4) ensure that the flight of an unmanned aircraft system be for a public purpose;
(5) maintain a record of each flight, including the time, date, and purpose of the flight, and the identity of the authorizing official;
(6) establish an auditable flight record system, including the documentation of a change in a flight time record;
(7) establish a method for notifying the public of the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, unless notifying the public would endanger the safety of a person;
(8) provide for community involvement in the development of the policies required in this section, including the consideration of public comment.

(b) In this section, “chief administrative officer” has the meaning given in AS 18.65.290.

Alaska State Statutes Sec. 18.65.902. Use of an unmanned aircraft system by a law enforcement agency.

A law enforcement agency may use an unmanned aircraft system
(1) to gather evidence in a criminal investigation

(A) under the express terms of a search warrant issued by a court; or
(B) in accordance with a judicially recognized exception to the warrant requirement; or

(2) in situations and for uses not involving a criminal investigation and not intended to lead to the production of evidence for use in a criminal investigation, if the use does not constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy and is consistent with the procedures in AS 18.65.901.

Alaska State Statutes Sec. 18.65.903. Retention of images.

(a) A law enforcement agency may not retain images captured by an unmanned aircraft system unless retention of the image is required

(1) as part of an investigation or prosecution;
(2) for training purposes; or
(3) by federal or state law or by municipal ordinance.

(b) Images that may not be retained under (a) of this section are confidential and are not public records under AS 40.25.100 – 40.25.295.

Alaska State Statutes Sec. 18.65.909. Definitions.

In AS 18.65.900 – 18.65.909,
(1) “law enforcement agency” has the meaning given in AS 12.36.090;
(2) “unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned aircraft that is operated without direct human intervention from inside or on the aircraft and includes the associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications, and navigation equipment necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft;
(3) “unmanned aircraft system crew member” means a person other than an unmanned aircraft system pilot who is assigned to duties related to an unmanned aircraft system during flight;
(4) “unmanned aircraft system pilot” means a person exercising control over an unmanned aircraft system during flight.

 

Alaska State Statutes Sec. 29.10.200. Limitation of home rule powers.

Only the following provisions of this title apply to home rule municipalities as prohibitions on acting otherwise than as provided. These provisions supersede existing and prohibit future home rule enactments that provide otherwise:

. . .  (41) AS 29.35.146 (images captured by unmanned aircraft systems);

Alaska State Statutes Sec. 29.35.146. Regulation of unmanned aircraft systems.

(a) A municipality may not adopt an ordinance that permits the release of images captured by an unmanned aircraft system in a manner inconsistent with AS 18.65.903.

(b) In this section, “unmanned aircraft system” has the meaning given in AS 18.65.909.


Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Latest posts by Jonathan Rupprecht (see all)

Idaho Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This page is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice!  The information may also not be complete. The laws are constantly changing. It might NOT be up to date. 

Want all the State Drone Laws in a PDF Download?

Traveling? Click here to see other US drone laws by state.

 Current as of February 21, 2017

Idaho State Statute 21-213.  RESTRICTIONS ON USE OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS — DEFINITION — VIOLATION — CAUSE OF ACTION AND DAMAGES. 

(1)  
(a) For the purposes of this section, the term “unmanned aircraft system” (UAS) means an unmanned aircraft vehicle, drone, remotely piloted vehicle, remotely piloted aircraft or remotely operated aircraft that is a powered aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, can fly autonomously or remotely and can be expendable or recoverable.
(b)  Unmanned aircraft system does not include:
(i)   Model flying airplanes or rockets including, but not necessarily limited to, those that are radio controlled or otherwise remotely controlled and that are used purely for sport or recreational purposes; and
(ii)  An unmanned aircraft system used in mapping or resource management.
(2) 
(a) Absent a warrant, and except for emergency response for safety, search and rescue or controlled substance investigations, no person, entity or state agency shall use an unmanned aircraft system to intentionally conduct surveillance of, gather evidence or collect information about, or photographically or electronically record specifically targeted persons or specifically targeted private property including, but not limited to:
(i)   An individual or a dwelling owned by an individual and such dwelling’s curtilage, without such individual’s written consent;
(ii)  A farm, dairy, ranch or other agricultural industry without the written consent of the owner of such farm, dairy, ranch or other agricultural industry.
(b)  No person, entity or state agency shall use an unmanned aircraft system to photograph or otherwise record an individual, without such individual’s written consent, for the purpose of publishing or otherwise publicly disseminating such photograph or recording.
(3)  Any person who is the subject of prohibited conduct under subsection (2) of this section shall:
(a)  Have a civil cause of action against the person, entity or state agency for such prohibited conduct; and
(b)  Be entitled to recover from any such person, entity or state agency damages in the amount of the greater of one thousand dollars ($1,000) or actual and general damages, plus reasonable attorney’s fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred.
(4)  An owner of facilities located on lands owned by another under a valid easement, permit, license or other right of occupancy is not prohibited in this section from using an unmanned aircraft system to aerially inspect such facilities.

Idaho State Statute 36-1101 TAKING OF WILDLIFE UNLAWFUL EXCEPT BY STATUTE OR COMMISSION RULE OR PROCLAMATION — METHODS PROHIBITED — EXCEPTIONS.

(a) It is unlawful, except as may be otherwise provided by Idaho law, including this title or commission rules or proclamations promulgated pursuant thereto, for any person to take any of the game animals, birds or furbearing animals of this state.
(b)  Except as may be otherwise provided under this title or commission rules or proclamations promulgated pursuant thereto, it is unlawful for any person to:
1.  Hunt from Motorized Vehicles. Hunt any of the game animals or game birds of this state from or by the use of any motorized vehicle, including any unmanned aircraft system, except as provided by commission rule; provided however, that the commission shall promulgate rules which shall allow a physically disabled person to apply for a special permit which would allow the person to hunt from a motorized vehicle which is not in motion. A physically disabled person means a person who has lost the use of one (1) or both lower extremities or both hands, or is unable to walk two hundred (200) feet or more unassisted by another person, or is unable to walk two hundred (200) feet or more without the aid of a walker, cane, crutches, braces, prosthetic device or a wheelchair, or is unable to walk two hundred (200) feet or more without great difficulty or discomfort due to one (1) or more of the following impairments: neurological, orthopedic, respiratory, cardiac, arthritic disorder, blindness, or the loss of function or absence of a limb.
The commission shall specify the form of application for and design of the special permit which shall allow a physically disabled person to hunt from a motorized vehicle which is not in motion. No fee shall be charged for the issuance of the special permit and the issuance of a special permit shall not exempt a person from otherwise properly purchasing or obtaining other necessary licenses, permits and tags in accordance with this title and rules promulgated pursuant thereto. The special permit shall not be transferable and may only be used by the person to whom it is issued. A person who has been issued a special permit which allows a physically disabled person to hunt from a motorized vehicle not in motion shall have that permit prominently displayed on any vehicle the person is utilizing to hunt from and the person shall produce, on demand, the permit and other identification when so requested by a conservation officer of the department of fish and game. A person possessing a special permit shall not discharge any firearm from or across a public highway. In addition to other penalties, any unauthorized use of the special permit shall be grounds for revocation of the permit.
2.  Molest with Motorized Vehicles. Use any motorized vehicle, including any unmanned aircraft system, to molest, stir up, rally or drive in any manner any of the game animals or game birds of this state.
3.  Communicate from Aircraft. Make use of aircraft, including any unmanned aircraft system, in any manner to spot or locate game animals, game birds or furbearing animals of this state from the air and communicate the location or approximate location thereof by any signals whatsoever, whether radio, visual or otherwise, to any person then on the ground.
4.  Hunt from Helicopter. Make use of any helicopter in any manner in the taking of game or loading, transporting, or unloading hunters, game or hunting gear in any manner except when such use is at recognized airports or airplane landing fields, or at heliports which have been previously established on private land or which have been established by a department or agency of the federal, state or local government or when said use is in the course of emergency or search and rescue operations. Provided however, that nothing in this chapter shall limit or prohibit the lawful control of wolves or predatory or unprotected animals through the use of helicopters when such measures are deemed necessary by federal or state agencies in accordance with existing laws or management plans.
5.  Hunt with Aid of Aircraft. Make use of any aircraft, including any unmanned aircraft system, to locate any big game animal for the purpose of hunting those animals during the same calendar day those animals were located from the air. Provided however, that nothing in this chapter shall limit or prohibit the lawful control of wolves or predatory or unprotected wildlife through the use of aircraft when such measures are deemed necessary by federal or state agencies in accordance with existing laws or management plans.
6.  Artificial Light. Hunt any animal or bird except raccoon by the aid of a spotlight, flashlight or artificial light of any kind. The act of casting or throwing, after sunset, the beam or rays of any spotlight, headlight or other artificial light capable of utilizing six (6) volts or more of electrical power upon any field, forest or other place by any person while having in his possession or under his control any uncased firearm or contrivance capable of killing any animal or bird, shall be prima facie evidence of hunting with an artificial light. Provided nothing in this subsection shall apply where the headlights of a motor vehicle, operated and proceeding in a normal manner on any highway or roadway, cast a light upon animals or birds on or adjacent to such highway or roadway and there is no intent or attempt to locate such animals or birds. Provided further, nothing in this subsection shall prevent the hunting of unprotected or predatory wildlife with the aid of artificial light when such hunting is for the purpose of protecting property or livestock, is done by landowners or persons authorized in writing by them to do so and is done on property they own, lease or control; and provided further that the hunting and taking of unprotected or predatory wildlife with the aid of artificial light on public lands is authorized after obtaining a permit to do so from the director. The director may, for good cause, refuse to issue such permit.
Other provisions of this subsection notwithstanding, the commission may establish rules allowing the hunting of raccoon with the aid of an artificial light.
7.  Regulation of Dogs.
(A)  No person shall make use of a dog for the purpose of pursuing, taking or killing any of the big game animals of this state except as otherwise provided by rules of the commission.
(B)  Any person who is the owner of, or in possession of, or who harbors any dog found running at large and which is actively tracking, pursuing, harassing or attacking, or which injures or kills deer or any other big game animal within this state shall be guilty as provided in section 36-1401(a)1.(F), Idaho Code. It shall be no defense that such dog or dogs were pursuing said big game animals without the aid or direction of the owner, possessor, or harborer.
(C)  Any dog found running at large and which is actively tracking, pursuing, harassing, attacking or killing deer or any other big game animal may be destroyed without criminal or civil liability by the director, or any peace officer, or other persons authorized to enforce the Idaho fish and game laws.
8.  Attempt to Take Simulated Wildlife.
(A)  Attempt to take, by firearm or any other contrivance capable of killing an animal or bird, simulated wildlife in violation of any of the provisions of this title or commission rules applicable to the taking of the wildlife being simulated, when the simulated wildlife is being used by a conservation officer or other person authorized to enforce Idaho fish and game laws or rules promulgated pursuant thereto. No person shall be found guilty of violating either this subparagraph, or subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, provided that no other law or rule has been violated.
(B)  Any person pleading guilty to, convicted of or found guilty for attempting to take simulated wildlife within this state shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in either subsection (c) or (e) of section 36-1402, Idaho Code, and shall pay restitution in an amount of no less than fifty dollars ($50.00) for the repair or replacement of the simulated wildlife.
9.  Devices Accessed via Internet.
(A)  No person shall shoot at or kill any bird or animal in Idaho, wild or domestic, including domestic cervidae governed under the provisions of chapter 37, title 25, Idaho Code, with any gun or other device accessed and controlled via an internet connection. Accessing, regulating access to, or regulating the control of a device capable of being operated in violation of this paragraph shall be prima facie evidence of an offense under this paragraph.
(B)  Any person pleading guilty to, convicted of or found guilty of a violation of this paragraph shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in section 36-1402, Idaho Code.

Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Latest posts by Jonathan Rupprecht (see all)

Arizona Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This page is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice!  The information may also not be complete. The laws are constantly changing. It might NOT be up to date. 

Want all the State Drone Laws in a PDF Download?

Traveling? Click here to see other US drone laws by state.

 Current as of February 21, 2017

13-3729. Unlawful operation of model or unmanned aircraft; state preemption; classification; definitions

A. It is unlawful for a person to operate a model aircraft or a civil unmanned aircraft if the operation:

1. Is prohibited by a federal law or regulation that governs aeronautics, including federal aviation administration regulations.

2. Interferes with a law enforcement, firefighter or emergency services operation.

B. It is unlawful for a person to operate or use an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system to intentionally photograph or loiter over or near a critical facility in the furtherance of any criminal offense.

C. Except as authorized by law, a city, town or county may not enact or adopt any ordinance, policy or rule that relates to the ownership or operation of an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system or otherwise engage in the regulation of the ownership or operation of an unmanned aircraft or an unmanned aircraft system. Any ordinance, policy or rule that violates this subsection, whether enacted or adopted by the city, town or county before or after August 6, 2016, is void.

D. This section does not:

1. Apply to a person or entity that is authorized or allowed by the federal aviation administration to operate or use an unmanned aircraft system if the person’s or entity’s operation or use complies with the authorization granted to the person or entity or with federal aviation administration rules.

2. Prohibit a city, town or county from enacting or adopting ordinances or rules on the operation or use of a public unmanned aircraft that is owned by the city, town or county.

3. Prohibit a city, town or county from enacting or adopting ordinances or rules that regulate the takeoff or landing of a model aircraft in a park or preserve owned by the city, town or county if:

(a) There are other parks or preserves that are within the city, town or county and that are available for model aircraft operation.

(b) The city, town or county only has one park or preserve that is within the city, town or county.

4. Apply to the operation of an unmanned aircraft, including a public unmanned aircraft, by a first responder as defined in section 36-661 while acting in the first responder’s official capacity or an emergency worker while engaged in or supporting authorized emergency management activities or performing emergency functions pursuant to title 26, chapter 2.

E. A violation of subsection B of this section is a class 6 felony, except that a second or subsequent violation is a class 5 felony. A violation of subsection A of this section is a class 1 misdemeanor.

F. For the purposes of this section:

1. “Civil unmanned aircraft” means an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system that is operated by a person for any purpose other than strictly for hobby or recreational purposes, including commercial purposes, or in furtherance of or incidental to any business or media service or agency.

2. “Commercial purposes” means the use of an unmanned aircraft in return for financial compensation and includes aerial photography, aerial mapping or geospatial imaging.

3. “Critical facility” means any of the following:

(a) A petroleum or alumina refinery.

(b) A petroleum, chemical or rubber production, transportation, storage or processing facility.

(c) A chemical manufacturing facility.

(d) A water or wastewater treatment facility and water development, distribution or conveyance system, including a dam.

(e) An electric generation facility, as defined in section 42-14156, and any associated substation or switchyard.

(f) An electrical transmission or distribution substation.

(g) An electrical transmission line of at least sixty-nine thousand volts.

(h) An electronic communication station or tower.

(i) An energy control center.

(j) A distribution operating center.

(k) A facility that transfers or distributes natural gas, including a compressor station, regulator station, city gate station or pressure limiting station or a liquefied natural gas facility or supplier tap facility.

(l) Any railroad infrastructure or facility.

(m) A federal, state, county or municipal court.

(n) A public safety or emergency operation facility.

(o) A federal, state, county or municipal jail or prison or other facility in which persons are incarcerated.

(p) A federal or state military installation or facility.

(q) A hospital that receives air ambulance services.

4. “Model aircraft” has the same meaning prescribed in section 336 of the FAA modernization and reform act of 2012 (P.L. 112-95), as amended.

5. “Person” means a corporation, firm, partnership, association, individual or organization or any other group acting as a unit.

6. “Public unmanned aircraft” means an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system that is operated by a public agency for a government-related purpose.

7. “Unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft, including an aircraft commonly known as a drone, that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

8. “Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements, including any communication links and components that control the unmanned aircraft.

28-8242Powers and duties

A. The department:

1. Shall cooperate with all state, local and federal organizations to encourage and advance the safe and orderly development of aviation in this state.

2. May:

(a) Assemble and distribute to the public information relating to aviation, landing fields, navigational aids and other matters pertaining to aviation.

(b) Accept, in the name of this state, federal monies made available for the advancement of aviation.

(c) Represent this state on issues of routing structures and rate schedules concerning commercial airline traffic.

(d) Accept and receive federal and other public or private monies for the acquisition, construction, enlargement, improvement, maintenance, equipment or operation of airports and other air navigation facilities and sites for air navigation facilities or for any other purpose authorized by this section. The department shall deposit, pursuant to sections 35-146 and 35-147, these monies in the state aviation fund.

(e) Facilitate the development of a regional airport.

(f) Loan monies from the state aviation fund to an airport authority that enters into an agreement with the United States for an airport development project if the airport authority designates in its agreement with the United States that payment of federal participating monies shall be made to the department acting as the agent of the airport authority and enters into an agreement with the department appointing the department as agent of the airport authority to receive all federal participating monies. The department shall deposit, pursuant to sections 35-146 and 35-147, all monies received pursuant to this subdivision in the state aviation fund. For the purposes of this subdivision, “airport authority” means the governing body of a public airport operating pursuant to sections 28-8423 and 28-8424 or a joint powers airport authority.

B. Notwithstanding section 38-623, the director may authorize personnel of the department to use rental aircraft in the performance of their duties at the prevailing hourly rate. The rental fee is a charge against monies appropriated for in-state and out-of-state travel.

C. The director shall adopt rules as necessary to administer this article and articles 1, 3, 4 and 5 of this chapter and to promote public safety and the best interests of aviation in this state. The rules shall not supersede or conflict with rules of the United States government agencies having jurisdiction over aviation activities in this state.

D. The director shall:

1. Contract for the operation of state owned airports.

2. In conjunction with local authorities, plan, build and develop airports, airport terminals and other related navigational facilities.

3. Operate and maintain the Grand Canyon national park airport located in the Kaibab national forest, Coconino county.

4. Provide on the department’s website information on resources for operating a model aircraft, including safety guidelines established by a nationwide aeronautics community-based organization.

5. Provide on the department’s website pictures that show examples of critical facilities, as defined in section 13-3729, to provide unmanned aircraft operators with information on what is considered a critical facility. A picture or any written description on the website may not identify the owner or operator of the critical facility or the location of the critical facility.

28-8280. Careless or reckless aircraft operation; violation; classification; definitions

A. A person who operates an aircraft in the air, on the ground or on the water in a careless or reckless manner that endangers the life or property of another is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. In determining whether the operation was careless or reckless, the court shall consider the standards for safe operation of aircraft prescribed by federal statutes or regulations governing aeronautics.

B. For the purposes of this section:

1. “Aircraft” includes a model aircraft and civil unmanned aircraft.

2. “Civil unmanned aircraft” has the same meaning prescribed in section 13-3729.

3. “Model aircraft” has the same meaning prescribed in section 13-3729.


Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Latest posts by Jonathan Rupprecht (see all)

Texas Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This page is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice!  The information may also not be complete. The laws are constantly changing. It might NOT be up to date. 

Want all the State Drone Laws in a PDF Download?

Traveling? Click here to see other US drone laws by state.

 Current as of February 21, 2017

Texas Government Code Chapter 423. USE OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT

Sec. 423.001. DEFINITION. In this chapter, “image” means any capturing of sound waves, thermal, infrared, ultraviolet, visible light, or other electromagnetic waves, odor, or other conditions existing on or about real property in this state or an individual located on that property.

Added by Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1390 (H.B. 912), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2013.

Sec. 423.002. NONAPPLICABILITY.

(a) It is lawful to capture an image using an unmanned aircraft in this state:

(1) for the purpose of professional or scholarly research and development or for another academic purpose by a person acting on behalf of an institution of higher education or a private or independent institution of higher education, as those terms are defined by Section 61.003, Education Code, including a person who:

(A) is a professor, employee, or student of the institution; or

(B) is under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of the institution;

(2) in airspace designated as a test site or range authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration for the purpose of integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace;

(3) as part of an operation, exercise, or mission of any branch of the United States military;

(4) if the image is captured by a satellite for the purposes of mapping;

(5) if the image is captured by or for an electric or natural gas utility:

(A) for operations and maintenance of utility facilities for the purpose of maintaining utility system reliability and integrity;

(B) for inspecting utility facilities to determine repair, maintenance, or replacement needs during and after construction of such facilities;

(C) for assessing vegetation growth for the purpose of maintaining clearances on utility easements; and

(D) for utility facility routing and siting for the purpose of providing utility service;

(6) with the consent of the individual who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image;

(7) pursuant to a valid search or arrest warrant;

(8) if the image is captured by a law enforcement authority or a person who is under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of a law enforcement authority:

(A) in immediate pursuit of a person law enforcement officers have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to suspect has committed an offense, not including misdemeanors or offenses punishable by a fine only;

(B) for the purpose of documenting a crime scene where an offense, not including misdemeanors or offenses punishable by a fine only, has been committed;

(C) for the purpose of investigating the scene of:

(i) a human fatality;

(ii) a motor vehicle accident causing death or serious bodily injury to a person; or

(iii) any motor vehicle accident on a state highway or federal interstate or highway;

(D) in connection with the search for a missing person;

(E) for the purpose of conducting a high-risk tactical operation that poses a threat to human life; or

(F) of private property that is generally open to the public where the property owner consents to law enforcement public safety responsibilities;

(9) if the image is captured by state or local law enforcement authorities, or a person who is under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of state authorities, for the purpose of:

(A) surveying the scene of a catastrophe or other damage to determine whether a state of emergency should be declared;

(B) preserving public safety, protecting property, or surveying damage or contamination during a lawfully declared state of emergency; or

(C) conducting routine air quality sampling and monitoring, as provided by state or local law;

(10) at the scene of a spill, or a suspected spill, of hazardous materials;

(11) for the purpose of fire suppression;

(12) for the purpose of rescuing a person whose life or well-being is in imminent danger;

(13) if the image is captured by a Texas licensed real estate broker in connection with the marketing, sale, or financing of real property, provided that no individual is identifiable in the image;

(14) of real property or a person on real property that is within 25 miles of the United States border;

(15) from a height no more than eight feet above ground level in a public place, if the image was captured without using any electronic, mechanical, or other means to amplify the image beyond normal human perception;

(16) of public real property or a person on that property;

(17) if the image is captured by the owner or operator of an oil, gas, water, or other pipeline for the purpose of inspecting, maintaining, or repairing pipelines or other related facilities, and is captured without the intent to conduct surveillance on an individual or real property located in this state;

(18) in connection with oil pipeline safety and rig protection;

(19) in connection with port authority surveillance and security;

(20) if the image is captured by a registered professional land surveyor in connection with the practice of professional surveying, as those terms are defined by Section 1071.002, Occupations Code, provided that no individual is identifiable in the image; or

(21) if the image is captured by a professional engineer licensed under Subchapter G, Chapter 1001, Occupations Code, in connection with the practice of engineering, as defined by Section 1001.003, Occupations Code, provided that no individual is identifiable in the image.

(b) This chapter does not apply to the manufacture, assembly, distribution, or sale of an unmanned aircraft.

Added by Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1390 (H.B. 912), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2013.

Amended by: Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 360 (H.B. 2167), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2015.

Sec. 423.003. OFFENSE: ILLEGAL USE OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT TO CAPTURE IMAGE.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person uses an unmanned aircraft to capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image.

(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the person destroyed the image:

(1) as soon as the person had knowledge that the image was captured in violation of this section; and

(2) without disclosing, displaying, or distributing the image to a third party.

(d) In this section, “intent” has the meaning assigned by Section 6.03, Penal Code.

Added by Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1390 (H.B. 912), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2013.

Sec. 423.004. OFFENSE: POSSESSION, DISCLOSURE, DISPLAY, DISTRIBUTION, OR USE OF IMAGE.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person:

(1) captures an image in violation of Section 423.003; and

(2) possesses, discloses, displays, distributes, or otherwise uses that image.

(b) An offense under this section for the possession of an image is a Class C misdemeanor. An offense under this section for the disclosure, display, distribution, or other use of an image is a Class B misdemeanor.

(c) Each image a person possesses, discloses, displays, distributes, or otherwise uses in violation of this section is a separate offense.

(d) It is a defense to prosecution under this section for the possession of an image that the person destroyed the image as soon as the person had knowledge that the image was captured in violation of Section 423.003.

(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section for the disclosure, display, distribution, or other use of an image that the person stopped disclosing, displaying, distributing, or otherwise using the image as soon as the person had knowledge that the image was captured in violation of Section 423.003.

Added by Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1390 (H.B. 912), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2013.

Sec. 423.0045. OFFENSE: OPERATION OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT OVER CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE FACILITY.

(a) In this section:

(1) “Critical infrastructure facility” means:

(A) one of the following, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders, or if clearly marked with a sign or signs that are posted on the property, are reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, and indicate that entry is forbidden:

(i) a petroleum or alumina refinery;

(ii) an electrical power generating facility, substation, switching station, or electrical control center;

(iii) a chemical, polymer, or rubber manufacturing facility;

(iv) a water intake structure, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant, or pump station;

(v) a natural gas compressor station;

(vi) a liquid natural gas terminal or storage facility;

(vii) a telecommunications central switching office;

(viii) a port, railroad switching yard, trucking terminal, or other freight transportation facility;

(ix) a gas processing plant, including a plant used in the processing, treatment, or fractionation of natural gas;

(x) a transmission facility used by a federally licensed radio or television station;

(xi) a steelmaking facility that uses an electric arc furnace to make steel; or

(xii) a dam that is classified as a high hazard by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; or

(B) any portion of an aboveground oil, gas, or chemical pipeline that is enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders.

(2) “Dam” means any barrier, including any appurtenant structures, that is constructed for the purpose of permanently or temporarily impounding water.

(b) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly:

(1) operates an unmanned aircraft over a critical infrastructure facility and the unmanned aircraft is not higher than 400 feet above ground level;

(2) allows an unmanned aircraft to make contact with a critical infrastructure facility, including any person or object on the premises of or within the facility; or

(3) allows an unmanned aircraft to come within a distance of a critical infrastructure facility that is close enough to interfere with the operations of or cause a disturbance to the facility.

(c) This section does not apply to conduct described by Subsection (b) that is committed by:

(1) the federal government, the state, or a governmental entity;

(2) a person under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of the federal government, the state, or a governmental entity;

(3) a law enforcement agency;

(4) a person under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of a law enforcement agency;

(5) an owner or operator of the critical infrastructure facility;

(6) a person under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of an owner or operator of the critical infrastructure facility;

(7) a person who has the prior written consent of the owner or operator of the critical infrastructure facility;

(8) the owner or occupant of the property on which the critical infrastructure facility is located or a person who has the prior written consent of the owner or occupant of that property; or

(9) an operator of an unmanned aircraft that is being used for a commercial purpose, if the operator is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct operations over that airspace.

(d) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor, except that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the actor has previously been convicted under this section.

Added by Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1033 (H.B. 1481), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2015.

Sec. 423.005. ILLEGALLY OR INCIDENTALLY CAPTURED IMAGES NOT SUBJECT TO DISCLOSURE.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by Subsection (b), an image captured in violation of Section 423.003, or an image captured by an unmanned aircraft that was incidental to the lawful capturing of an image:

(1) may not be used as evidence in any criminal or juvenile proceeding, civil action, or administrative proceeding;

(2) is not subject to disclosure, inspection, or copying under Chapter 552; and

(3) is not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for its release.

(b) An image described by Subsection (a) may be disclosed and used as evidence to prove a violation of this chapter and is subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for that purpose.

Added by Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1390 (H.B. 912), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2013.

Sec. 423.006. CIVIL ACTION.

(a) An owner or tenant of privately owned real property located in this state may bring against a person who, in violation of Section 423.003, captured an image of the property or the owner or tenant while on the property an action to:

(1) enjoin a violation or imminent violation of Section 423.003 or 423.004;

(2) recover a civil penalty of:

(A) $5,000 for all images captured in a single episode in violation of Section 423.003; or

(B) $10,000 for disclosure, display, distribution, or other use of any images captured in a single episode in violation of Section 423.004; or

(3) recover actual damages if the person who captured the image in violation of Section 423.003 discloses, displays, or distributes the image with malice.

(b) For purposes of recovering the civil penalty or actual damages under Subsection (a), all owners of a parcel of real property are considered to be a single owner and all tenants of a parcel of real property are considered to be a single tenant.

(c) In this section, “malice” has the meaning assigned by Section 41.001, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

(d) In addition to any civil penalties authorized under this section, the court shall award court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party.

(e) Venue for an action under this section is governed by Chapter 15, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

(f) An action brought under this section must be commenced within two years from the date the image was:

(1) captured in violation of Section 423.003; or

(2) initially disclosed, displayed, distributed, or otherwise used in violation of Section 423.004.

Added by Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1390 (H.B. 912), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2013.

Sec. 423.007. RULES FOR USE BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.

The Department of Public Safety shall adopt rules and guidelines for use of an unmanned aircraft by a law enforcement authority in this state.

Added by Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1390 (H.B. 912), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2013.

Sec. 423.008. REPORTING BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY.

(a) Not earlier than January 1 and not later than January 15 of each odd-numbered year, each state law enforcement agency and each county or municipal law enforcement agency located in a county or municipality, as applicable, with a population greater than 150,000, that used or operated an unmanned aircraft during the preceding 24 months shall issue a written report to the governor, the lieutenant governor, and each member of the legislature and shall:

(1) retain the report for public viewing; and

(2) post the report on the law enforcement agency’s publicly accessible website, if one exists.

(b) The report must include:

(1) the number of times an unmanned aircraft was used, organized by date, time, location, and the types of incidents and types of justification for the use;

(2) the number of criminal investigations aided by the use of an unmanned aircraft and a description of how the unmanned aircraft aided each investigation;

(3) the number of times an unmanned aircraft was used for a law enforcement operation other than a criminal investigation, the dates and locations of those operations, and a description of how the unmanned aircraft aided each operation;

(4) the type of information collected on an individual, residence, property, or area that was not the subject of a law enforcement operation and the frequency of the collection of this information; and

(5) the total cost of acquiring, maintaining, repairing, and operating or otherwise using each unmanned aircraft for the preceding 24 months.

Added by Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1390 (H.B. 912), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2013.

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Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

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California Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This page is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice!  The information may also not be complete. The laws are constantly changing. It might NOT be up to date. 

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Current as of February 21, 2017

California Civil Code 43.101.  

(a) An emergency responder shall not be liable for any damage to an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system, if that damage was caused while the emergency responder was providing, and the unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system was interfering with, the operation, support, or enabling of the emergency services listed in Section 853 of the Government Code.

(b)

(1) For purposes of this section, “emergency responder” means either of the following, if acting within the scope of authority implicitly or expressly provided by a local public entity or a public employee of a local public entity to provide emergency services:

(A) A paid or an unpaid volunteer.

(B) A private entity.

(2) All of the following terms shall have the same meaning as the terms as used in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 853) of Part 2 of Division 3.6 of Title 1 of the Government Code:

(A) Local public entity.

(B) Public employee of a local public entity.

(C) Unmanned aircraft.

(D) Unmanned aircraft system.

California Civil Code 1708.8.  

(a) A person is liable for physical invasion of privacy when the person knowingly enters onto the land or into the airspace above the land of another person without permission or otherwise commits a trespass in order to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity and the invasion occurs in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person.

(b) A person is liable for constructive invasion of privacy when the person attempts to capture, in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person, any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity, through the use of any device, regardless of whether there is a physical trespass, if this image, sound recording, or other physical impression could not have been achieved without a trespass unless the device was used.

(c) An assault or false imprisonment committed with the intent to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff is subject to subdivisions (d), (e), and (h).

(d) A person who commits any act described in subdivision (a), (b), or (c) is liable for up to three times the amount of any general and special damages that are proximately caused by the violation of this section. This person may also be liable for punitive damages, subject to proof according to Section 3294. If the plaintiff proves that the invasion of privacy was committed for a commercial purpose, the person shall also be subject to disgorgement to the plaintiff of any proceeds or other consideration obtained as a result of the violation of this section. A person who comes within the description of this subdivision is also subject to a civil fine of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) and not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

(e) A person who directs, solicits, actually induces, or actually causes another person, regardless of whether there is an employer-employee relationship, to violate any provision of subdivision (a), (b), or (c) is liable for any general, special, and consequential damages resulting from each said violation. In addition, the person that directs, solicits, actually induces, or actually causes another person, regardless of whether there is an employer-employee relationship, to violate this section shall be liable for punitive damages to the extent that an employer would be subject to punitive damages pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 3294. A person who comes within the description of this subdivision is also subject to a civil fine of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) and not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).

(f)

(1) The transmission, publication, broadcast, sale, offer for sale, or other use of any visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression that was taken or captured in violation of subdivision (a), (b), or (c) shall not constitute a violation of this section unless the person, in the first transaction following the taking or capture of the visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression, publicly transmitted, published, broadcast, sold, or offered for sale the visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression with actual knowledge that it was taken or captured in violation of subdivision (a), (b), or (c), and provided compensation, consideration, or remuneration, monetary or otherwise, for the rights to the unlawfully obtained visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression.

(2) For the purposes of paragraph (1), “actual knowledge” means actual awareness, understanding, and recognition, obtained prior to the time at which the person purchased or acquired the visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression, that the visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression was taken or captured in violation of subdivision (a), (b), or (c). The plaintiff shall establish actual knowledge by clear and convincing evidence.

(3) Any person that publicly transmits, publishes, broadcasts, sells, or offers for sale, in any form, medium, format, or work, a visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression that was previously publicly transmitted, published, broadcast, sold, or offered for sale by another person, is exempt from liability under this section.

(4) If a person’s first public transmission, publication, broadcast, or sale or offer for sale of a visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression that was taken or captured in violation of subdivision (a), (b), or (c) does not constitute a violation of this section, that person’s subsequent public transmission, publication, broadcast, sale, or offer for sale, in any form, medium, format, or work, of the visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression, does not constitute a violation of this section.

(5) This section applies only to a visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression that is captured or taken in California in violation of subdivision (a), (b), or (c) after January 1, 2010, and shall not apply to any visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression taken or captured outside of California.

(6) Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to impair or limit a special motion to strike pursuant to Section 425.16, 425.17, or 425.18 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

(7) This section shall not be construed to limit all other rights or remedies of the plaintiff in law or equity, including, but not limited to, the publication of private facts.

(g) This section shall not be construed to impair or limit any otherwise lawful activities of law enforcement personnel or employees of governmental agencies or other entities, either public or private, who, in the course and scope of their employment, and supported by an articulable suspicion, attempt to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of a person during an investigation, surveillance, or monitoring of any conduct to obtain evidence of suspected illegal activity or other misconduct, the suspected violation of any administrative rule or regulation, a suspected fraudulent conduct, or any activity involving a violation of law or business practices or conduct of public officials adversely affecting the public welfare, health, or safety.

(h) In any action pursuant to this section, the court may grant equitable relief, including, but not limited to, an injunction and restraining order against further violations of subdivision (a), (b), or (c).

(i) The rights and remedies provided in this section are cumulative and in addition to any other rights and remedies provided by law.

(j) It is not a defense to a violation of this section that no image, recording, or physical impression was captured or sold.

(k) For the purposes of this section, “for a commercial purpose” means any act done with the expectation of a sale, financial gain, or other consideration. A visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression shall not be found to have been, or intended to have been, captured for a commercial purpose unless it is intended to be, or was in fact, sold, published, or transmitted.

(l)

(1) For the purposes of this section, “private, personal, and familial activity” includes, but is not limited to:

(A) Intimate details of the plaintiff’s personal life under circumstances in which the plaintiff has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(B) Interaction with the plaintiff’s family or significant others under circumstances in which the plaintiff has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(C) If and only after the person has been convicted of violating Section 626.8 of the Penal Code, any activity that occurs when minors are present at any location set forth in subdivision (a) of Section 626.8 of the Penal Code.

(D) Any activity that occurs on a residential property under circumstances in which the plaintiff has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(E) Other aspects of the plaintiff’s private affairs or concerns under circumstances in which the plaintiff has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(2) “Private, personal, and familial activity” does not include illegal or otherwise criminal activity as delineated in subdivision (g). However, “private, personal, and familial activity” shall include the activities of victims of crime in circumstances under which subdivision (a), (b), or (c) would apply.

(m)

(1) A proceeding to recover the civil fines specified in subdivision (d) or (e) may be brought in any court of competent jurisdiction by a county counsel or city attorney.

(2) Fines collected pursuant to this subdivision shall be allocated, as follows:

(A) One-half shall be allocated to the prosecuting agency.

(B) One-half shall be deposited in the Arts and Entertainment Fund, which is hereby created in the State Treasury.

(3) Funds in the Arts and Entertainment Fund created pursuant to paragraph (2) may be expended by the California Arts Council, upon appropriation by the Legislature, to issue grants pursuant to the Dixon-Zenovich-Maddy California Arts Act of 1975 (Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 8750) of Division 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code).

(4) The rights and remedies provided in this subdivision are cumulative and in addition to any other rights and remedies provided by law.

(n) The provisions of this section are severable. If any provision of this section or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 521, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2016.)

California Government Code 853.  

A local public entity or public employee of a local public entity shall not be liable for any damage to an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system, if the damage was caused while the local public entity or public employee of a local public entity was providing, and the unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system was interfering with, the operation, support, or enabling of any of the following emergency services:

(a) Emergency medical services or ambulance transport services, including, but not limited to, air ambulance services.

(b) Firefighting or firefighting-related services, including, but not limited to, air services related to firefighting or firefighting-related services.

(c) Search and rescue services, including, but not limited to, air search and rescue services.

California Government Code 853.1

The immunity provided by this chapter is in addition to any other immunity provided to a local public entity or public employee of a local public entity under law.

California Government Code 853.5.  

The following definitions shall apply to this chapter:

(a) “Unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

(b) “Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements, including, but not limited to, communication links and the components that control the unmanned aircraft that are required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace system.

California Penal Code 402 

(a)

(1) Every person who goes to the scene of an emergency, or stops at the scene of an emergency, for the purpose of viewing the scene or the activities of police officers, firefighters, emergency medical, or other emergency personnel, or military personnel coping with the emergency in the course of their duties during the time it is necessary for emergency vehicles or those personnel to be at the scene of the emergency or to be moving to or from the scene of the emergency for the purpose of protecting lives or property, unless it is part of the duties of that person’s employment to view that scene or those activities, and thereby impedes police officers, firefighters, emergency medical, or other emergency personnel or military personnel, in the performance of their duties in coping with the emergency, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(2) For purposes of this subdivision, a person shall include a person, regardless of his or her location, who operates or uses an unmanned aerial vehicle, remote piloted aircraft, or drone that is at the scene of an emergency.

(b) Every person who knowingly resists or interferes with the lawful efforts of a lifeguard in the discharge or attempted discharge of an official duty in an emergency situation, when the person knows or reasonably should know that the lifeguard is engaged in the performance of his or her official duty, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(c) For the purposes of this section, an emergency includes a condition or situation involving injury to persons, damage to property, or peril to the safety of persons or property, which results from a fire, an explosion, an airplane crash, flooding, windstorm damage, a railroad accident, a traffic accident, a powerplant accident, a toxic chemical or biological spill, or any other natural or human-caused event.

(Amended by Stats. 2016, Ch. 817, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2017.)

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Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Latest posts by Jonathan Rupprecht (see all)

Florida Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This page is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal advice!  The information may also not be complete. The laws are constantly changing. It might NOT be up to date. 

 

Want all the State Drone Laws in a PDF Download?

Traveling? Click here to see other US drone laws by state.

 

 Current as of February 21, 2017

Florida State Statute 934.50 Searches and seizure using a drone.

(1) SHORT TITLE.

This act may be cited as the “Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act.”

(2) DEFINITIONS.

As used in this act, the term:

(a) “Drone” means a powered, aerial vehicle that:

1. Does not carry a human operator;
2. Uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift;
3. Can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely;
4. Can be expendable or recoverable; and
5. Can carry a lethal or nonlethal payload.
(b) “Image” means a record of thermal, infrared, ultraviolet, visible light, or other electromagnetic waves; sound waves; odors; or other physical phenomena which captures conditions existing on or about real property or an individual located on that property.
(c) “Imaging device” means a mechanical, digital, or electronic viewing device; still camera; camcorder; motion picture camera; or any other instrument, equipment, or format capable of recording, storing, or transmitting an image.
(d) “Law enforcement agency” means a lawfully established state or local public agency that is responsible for the prevention and detection of crime, local government code enforcement, and the enforcement of penal, traffic, regulatory, game, or controlled substance laws.

(e) “Surveillance” means:

1. With respect to an owner, tenant, occupant, invitee, or licensee of privately owned real property, the observation of such persons with sufficient visual clarity to be able to obtain information about their identity, habits, conduct, movements, or whereabouts; or
2. With respect to privately owned real property, the observation of such property’s physical improvements with sufficient visual clarity to be able to determine unique identifying features or its occupancy by one or more persons.

(3) PROHIBITED USE OF DRONES.

(a) A law enforcement agency may not use a drone to gather evidence or other information.
(b) A person, a state agency, or a political subdivision as defined in s. 11.45 may not use a drone equipped with an imaging device to record an image of privately owned real property or of the owner, tenant, occupant, invitee, or licensee of such property with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image in violation of such person’s reasonable expectation of privacy without his or her written consent. For purposes of this section, a person is presumed to have a reasonable expectation of privacy on his or her privately owned real property if he or she is not observable by persons located at ground level in a place where they have a legal right to be, regardless of whether he or she is observable from the air with the use of a drone.

(4) EXCEPTIONS.

This section does not prohibit the use of a drone:

(a) To counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if the United States Secretary of Homeland Security determines that credible intelligence indicates that there is such a risk.
(b) If the law enforcement agency first obtains a search warrant signed by a judge authorizing the use of a drone.
(c) If the law enforcement agency possesses reasonable suspicion that, under particular circumstances, swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect or the destruction of evidence, or to achieve purposes including, but not limited to, facilitating the search for a missing person.
(d) By a person or an entity engaged in a business or profession licensed by the state, or by an agent, employee, or contractor thereof, if the drone is used only to perform reasonable tasks within the scope of practice or activities permitted under such person’s or entity’s license. However, this exception does not apply to a profession in which the licensee’s authorized scope of practice includes obtaining information about the identity, habits, conduct, movements, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, reputation, or character of any society, person, or group of persons.
(e) By an employee or a contractor of a property appraiser who uses a drone solely for the purpose of assessing property for ad valorem taxation.

(f) To capture images by or for an electric, water, or natural gas utility:

1. For operations and maintenance of utility facilities, including facilities used in the generation, transmission, or distribution of electricity, gas, or water, for the purpose of maintaining utility system reliability and integrity;
2. For inspecting utility facilities, including pipelines, to determine construction, repair, maintenance, or replacement needs before, during, and after construction of such facilities;
3. For assessing vegetation growth for the purpose of maintaining clearances on utility rights-of-way;
4. For utility routing, siting, and permitting for the purpose of constructing utility facilities or providing utility service; or
5. For conducting environmental monitoring, as provided by federal, state, or local law, rule, or permit.
(g) For aerial mapping, if the person or entity using a drone for this purpose is operating in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
(h) To deliver cargo, if the person or entity using a drone for this purpose is operating in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations.
(i) To capture images necessary for the safe operation or navigation of a drone that is being used for a purpose allowed under federal or Florida law.

(5) REMEDIES FOR VIOLATION.

(a) An aggrieved party may initiate a civil action against a law enforcement agency to obtain all appropriate relief in order to prevent or remedy a violation of this section.
(b) The owner, tenant, occupant, invitee, or licensee of privately owned real property may initiate a civil action for compensatory damages for violations of this section and may seek injunctive relief to prevent future violations of this section against a person, state agency, or political subdivision that violates paragraph (3)(b). In such action, the prevailing party is entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees from the nonprevailing party based on the actual and reasonable time expended by his or her attorney billed at an appropriate hourly rate and, in cases in which the payment of such a fee is contingent on the outcome, without a multiplier, unless the action is tried to verdict, in which case a multiplier of up to twice the actual value of the time expended may be awarded in the discretion of the trial court.
(c) Punitive damages for a violation of paragraph (3)(b) may be sought against a person subject to other requirements and limitations of law, including, but not limited to, part II of chapter 768 and case law.
(d) The remedies provided for a violation of paragraph (3)(b) are cumulative to other existing remedies.

(6) PROHIBITION ON USE OF EVIDENCE.

Evidence obtained or collected in violation of this act is not admissible as evidence in a criminal prosecution in any court of law in this state.

Want all the State Drone Laws in a PDF Download?


Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Latest posts by Jonathan Rupprecht (see all)

Orlando Drone Ordinance Passed

On January 23, 2017, the City of Orlando’s Council had a meeting and passed the proposed drone ordinance.

A video of the hearing along with arguments from the police department and the community can be viewed below. If you are confused as to how the ordinance was voted on, read Robert’s Rules of Order Chapter 3.

 


Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Latest posts by Jonathan Rupprecht (see all)

Amazon Drone Delivery – 3 Major Legal Problems with Amazon Prime Air

I’m going to briefly discuss some of the background to this drone delivery buzz, why privacy won’t be an issue to drone delivery, what really is going on, and then dive into the three major legal problems with Amazon Prime Air becoming a reality for Americans.

Don’t want to read? Watch or listen to the article while you are doing something!

Brief Background on the Drone Delivery Craze

 

Drone delivery has been all over the news with Amazon being the first to announce the projected use of drones to make deliveries. Others have followed the trend and announced deliveries such as the drone burrito delivery, the drone pizza delivery, etc.

 
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In 2015, Dave Vos, the former head of Google’s Project Wing, said to an audience, “Our goal is to have commercial business up and running in 2017[.]”  Fedex, UPS, DHL, Walmart, and everyone including your grandma’s dog has announced they are interested in drone delivery. Then, as if we hadn’t enough drone delivery buzz, Amazon published on December 14, 2016 a video showing their first customer delivery using a drone.

 

amazon-prime-air-drone-deliveryDrone delivery is really a small portion of the drone market, but thanks to Amazon, it is the “face” of the commercial drone industry. This has gone a long way to clean up a lot of the public stigma about the drone industry. On the topic of drones, people tend to think of Amazon delivery, not predator drones. Kudos to you Amazon for changing that.

 

The idea of drone deliveries in general is not only just delivering potato chips but also for more legitimate humanitarian purposes. A great example of this is the company Matternet, which partnered with UNICEF to do drone delivery in Malawi with the end goal of developing low-cost delivery of blood samples from children to be tested so medical drugs can be given to them when needed and in time. Drones – they can save money, time, and lives.

 

 

………and it isn’t because of one of the most frequently raised issues – privacy.

 

Privacy –Frequently Raised, but not a Legal Barrier.

I don’t think privacy issues are going to be a problem because of 3 reasons:

 

(1) In the terms of service that no one will read, language will be used to the effect that says it’s cool with the property owner to have the drone descend over their house and drop off the package.

(2) Missy Cummings, a professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab at Duke University, provided one potential solution of drone delivery companies and other companies partnering for delivery points. “Perhaps Starbucks could be your intermediary point.”

(3) Amazon’s patent on drone docking stations (attached to light polls or cell towers) won’t have property/privacy issues because that will all be taken care of in a contract agreement with the cell tower and power companies.

But let’s get back to Amazon. Is Amazon drone delivery really going to happen here in the U.S.?

 

Most of the News is of Operations Either Overseas or in Rural Areas

Most of what you have seen in the news is either in other countries or in rural areas of the U.S.

Most of the operations were completed in rural/non-urban areas.

 

Amazon’s latest marketing efforts show a drone delivery to a person who happened to be living next door (~ 765 yards) to Amazon’s Cambridge, England facility. That’s great if you live near a test site –  in another country. The drone deliveries overseas ….really don’t matter to us in the U.S. because we have different laws here.

 

Up until August 29, 2016,  we only had the Section 333 exemption process, the public certificate of waiver or authorization (which is statutorily prohibits commercial operations), or the airworthiness certificate process coupled with a certificate of waiver or authorization – all three are difficult to operate under in reality and only two allow commercial operations. Thankfully, Part 107 went into effect on August 29, 2016 and is far less restrictive than the previous three options. This is why you might have noticed that after August 29th, the drone delivery announcements and the accompanying photos in the U.S. have started to look closer to what we envision a drone delivery should look like.

 

 

Three Major Legal Problems With Amazon Prime Air Becoming a Reality for Americans.

 

Problem 1: FAA’s Part 107 Drone Regulations

These are the newly-created drone regulations that went into effect on August 29th.

 

Part 107 does NOT allow air carrier operations. “‘[A]ir carrier’ means a citizen of the United States undertaking by any means, directly or indirectly, to provide air transportation.”[1] “‘[A]ir transportation’ means foreign air transportation, interstate air transportation, or the transportation of mail by aircraft.”[2]  In other words, Fedex, UPS, DHL, USPS, or anyone crossing state or national borders cannot operate under Part 107. Bummer.

 

So Amazon can get around that by not carrying mail or crossing state or national borders.

 

Here is where things start to get limiting under Part 107 for drone delivery:

  • The drone must be within line of sight of the pilot in command[3] (The farther the drone can fly, the greater the economic impact).
  • A Part 107 remote pilot is needed that must be able to command the aircraft. Fully autonomous drones where a person isn’t in command won’t work.[4]
  • The remote pilot can only operate one drone at a time unless they have a Part 107 waiver.[5] In other words, no swarms, unless you have a waiver. This is an important point. A Flexport article rightly pointed out that costs will be lowered when swarms are implemented. “It’s not a stretch to think that a truck releasing a swarm of 25 delivery drones could be up to 25 times more efficient than a driver making those same drops.”
  • The drones cannot be operated from a moving vehicle to transport another person’s property for compensation or hire.[6] You’ll have to stop the delivery van.
  • The drone cannot be operated over a non-participating person or a moving vehicle.[7] This is going to be hard to figure out because people and cars are constantly moving all over the place in residential areas and cities. If you want to fly at night, say 2 AM, to get around the people problem, you’ll need a Part 107 night waiver. Either way, you’ll need a waiver.
  • The drones cannot be operated in Class B, C, D, or E at the surface airspace without an authorization or waiver.[8]

 

Following up on the last point, where are the customers? Near cities.

 

What is near cities? Airports….everywhere.

 

Let’s just pull some data from Arizona’s Amazon fulfillment distribution centers. Taxjar’s blog listed five address in Arizona (but it really is only four buildings).

  • #PHX3 – 6835 W. Buckeye Rd. Phoenix, AZ, 85043 – Maricopa County
  • #PHX5 – 16920 W. Commerce Dr. Goodyear, AZ, 85338 – Maricopa County
  • #PHX6 – 4750 W. Mohave St. Phoenix, AZ, 85043 – Maricopa County
  • #PHX7 – 800 N. 75th Ave Phoenix, AZ, 85043 – Maricopa County

 

I took these addresses and plugged them into the sectional map (green stars with green arrows) which shows us all the airspace in the Phoenix area. Calm down. I made it easy for you. I used to say to my flight students when I was flight instructing that these maps were like a form of job security. I marked out the areas where the drones cannot fly under Part 107 in red, unless they have an authorization or waiver.

drone-delivery-amazon-fullfilment-center-arizona

Two of the fulfillment centers are in controlled airspace and would require an authorization or waiver to just take off.

 

In short, under Part 107, Amazon has a host of regulatory problems they need to conquer just with the FAA to have cost saving operations, but Part 107 isn’t the only way to make a drone operation legal. There is also the Section 333 exemption process.

 

Problem 2: FAA’s Section 333 Exemption for Commercial Drone Operations

Part 107 doesn’t allow a beyond visual line of sight waiver for carrying other people’s property. However, while Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 was only line of sight, the FAA Reauthorization of 2016 has a provision which allows the FAA to grant 333’s for beyond visual line of sight operations (BVLOS). This is important because the farther the drone can fly, the greater the potential economic impact.

 

The reason why a drone delivery exemption  won’t be happening anytime soon is (1) there has been no 333 exemption for BVLOS granted to date, and  (2) all the 333 exemptions granted to date require the drone to be flown by a pilot with a sport certificate or higher and the drone must stay at least 500ft away from all non-participating people and property. It is hard to do package delivery in an urban or residential environment when you need to stay 500ft away from everything.

 

A new 333 exemption will need to be created by Amazon if they go this route. This will take some time.

 

Problem 3: States, Counties, Cities, & Towns All Regulating Drones – Death by a Thousand Papercuts

 

I see the people who want drone delivery falling into three categories: (1) those that value immediately possessing the item more than paying a high price, (2) those that don’t have any other choice (there is no next best alternative or the alternative is outside of their purchasing power), or (3) those that value the item now but not more than a high price.

 

A. Those that Value Immediately Possessing the Item More than Paying a High Price (Early Adopters)

 

There are some areas that are not price sensitive such as:

(1) Those that need delicate, limited, expensive, rare types of medicine immediately because the alternative is injury or death.

(2) Critical pieces of an operation. For example, a large piece of machinery broke down and there are many people (that the company is paying) just sitting around waiting for replacement parts. How much is it per hour to have the machinery NOT running?

(3) The rich guy down by the remote lake wants an anniversary gift, that he forgot to buy, for his wife right now. Maybe this should be in the (1) category because it’s kind of life and death.

Drones provide a great solution for the above categories because these people are interested more in  decreased time than decreased costs.

 

B. Those That do not Have any Other Choice (There is no Next Best Alternative or it is Outside of Their Purchasing Power)

In other situations, the drone might be the only feasible solution due to weather, disaster, lack of infrastructure, etc. (Think hurricane relief or Alaska bush pilots flying supplies into remote villages). If you are delivering to remote areas, you look at things differently. Flexport’s article discussing Matternet’s drone operations in Lesotho explained:

As Raptopoulos of Matternet points out, Google and Amazon’s plans ignore drones’ best feature: they can go where there are no roads.

“One billion people in the world today do not have access to all-season roads,” Raptopoulos told a TED audience in 2013. “We cannot get medicine to them reliably, they cannot get critical supplies, and they cannot get their goods to market in order to create a sustainable income.”

For the Matternet team, the most interesting question was not the cost per delivery. They wanted to compare the cost of the drone network to the cost of building the roads Lesotho so badly lacks.”

 

These two above categories are elastic with price, but the third category, will be affected by the states, counties, cities, or towns creating drone law.  The first two categories might be the early adopters, but they will be the small minority of drone deliveries. Most people are near a road where a delivery truck can get to them and they most likely are not in a life or death situation.

 

C. Those That Value the Item Now but not More Than a High Price.

 

Amazon’s business model is that the drones will provide a lower cost of delivery.

 

Darryl Jenkins, who worked on the economic study outlook for the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, said in his presentation,“Amazon will be able to push the per unit cost of delivery to at least $1.00 per package causing all other competitors to either adopt or die.” This is because of the economies of scale. But here is the problem, with a greater number of drones and drones operating across the U.S., more and more non-federal drone laws will need to be complied with.

 

Most people have four layers of government applying to them. These governments might have created drone laws. For example, where I used to live on Palm Beach Island, I had four layers of drone laws that applied to me: the Federal Aviation Regulations, the State of Florida’s Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act,[9] Palm Beach County’s ordinance prohibiting model airplane flights in county parks, and Palm Beach Island’s drone ordinance.

 

It isn’t super hard to track the 50 states and the federal government, but we don’t know everything going on with all the counties, cities, villages, boroughs, etc.

Also, local governments use all sorts of different terms to describe the same thing, such as unmanned aircraft, drone, model aircraft, etc. (they like to pretend they are the FAA) which further increases the times it takes to search.

 

These unknown areas are going to have to be checked into which means there is a need for a drone regulatory compliance department in Amazon which means $$$$. If the cost of compliance goes up, Amazon’s business model starts to make less and less sense.

 

Another aspect to these non-federal drone laws is that some of these laws are motivated not by the desire to decrease public risk, but to increase revenue. As a greater number of the non-federal regulators start catching on, Amazon and all the other companies interested in drone delivery start looking like revenue generators for local governments. Even if the local governments aren’t greedy, their focus on safety and protecting their citizens generally results in some type of “safety” requirement that needs to be proven before they issue a permit/license which further drives up operating costs for the companies.

 

We all understand the Amazon most likely won’t save any money at first on drone delivery, but the with more and more drone laws getting created, lobbying, compliance, monitoring, insurance, permitting, etc. will all start eating further into the cost savings which means costs savings won’t be realized for years and years down the line. At a certain point, one or two guys operating out of big delivery van starts to look like a good idea again.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

Many have written on this topic because they see the technology taking off. They see the progress in the technology that many have made and assume that drone delivery will be allowed soon. They get the “West Coast” mindset where they think if enough money and technology are thrown at the problem, it will be fixed regardless of the law. Additionally, most writing on or marketing drone delivery do not understand all the legal issues.

 

Aviation is an “East Coast” industry where the laws out of D.C. will heavily influence the business. Aviation is an extremely regulated environment. The faster the companies operating in this area realize that fact, the better off they will be so that they can actually do these types of operations.

 

Amazon still has a long way to go before drone delivery can be experienced in real life by the American public, not just as a short clip on the internet.

 

Interested in learning more about Part 107?

 

[1] 49 U.S.C. § 40102(a)(2)

[2] Id. at (a)(5).

[3] 14 CFR § 107.31.

[4] 14 CFR § 107.19.

[5] 14 CFR § 107.35.

[6] 14 CFR § 107.25.

[7] 14 CFR § 107.39

[8] 14 CFR § 107.41.

[9] F.S.S. § 934.50.