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.

Singer v. City of Newton-(Case Declaring Local Drone Law Illegal)

Update: The City of Newton appealed it to the circuit court but later asked for the case to be dismissed which the court granted.

The City of Newton, Massachusetts passed a drone ordinance on December 19, 2016. The ordinance requires all drones to be registered, bans drones below 400ft above ground level without property owner permission, and prohibits flights beyond the visual line of sight of the operator.

Dr. Michael Singer, a medical doctor and professor at Harvard, filed suit in the federal district court of Massachusetts. On September 21, 2017, the court ruled that four provisions of the local ordinance were conflict preempted.

To read more drone law cases, go to my Drone Lawsuit/Litigation Database.

Table of Contents:

The Problematic Provisions of Newton’s Drone Ordinance

The City of Newton passed an ordinance which regulated the flight of all unmanned aircraft. The ordinance that passed had multiple provisions but Singer challenged 4 of them. Interesting to note, at the time of this lawsuit, Massachusetts didn’t have an state level drone laws.  I have organized the ordinance provisions below to ease in conceptualization.

1. Registration.
Section (b) of the ordinance says, “Owners of all pilotless aircraft shall register their pilotless aircraft with the City Clerk’s Office, either individually or as a member of a club . . . .”

2. Operational Restrictions.
A. Altitude
Subsection (c)(1)(a) prohibits pilotless aircraft flight below an altitude of 400 feet over any private property without the express permission of the property owner.

Subsection (c)(1)(e) prohibits pilotless aircraft flight over public property, at any altitude, without prior permission from Newton.

B. Beyond Line of Sight of the Operator
Subsection (c)(1)(b) states that no pilotless aircraft may be operated “at a distance beyond the visual line of sight of the Operator.” The Ordinance neither defines the term “Operator,” nor sets an altitude limit.

Brief Discussion on Preemption

Article 6 of the United States Constitution basically stands for where federal and state law interact/conflict, federal law wins. This is called preemption. There are two types of preemption: express and implied preemption. Express is easy to figure out as the law states it clearly. However, with implied preemption, things are more difficult. Courts have to figure what to do, or really what Congress should have said, but didn’t, and now the court has to clean up the mess. There are two types of implied preemption: field and conflict. Field preemption is where courts infer that Congress has regulated the area so much that they did not intend to leave any area of that field available to be regulated by the states. Conflict preemption is where courts imply that Congress did not intend to allow state laws to substantially frustrate the implementation of the federal law.
Dr. Michael Singer filed the lawsuit and alleged the 4 provisions above were field and conflict preempted by federal statutes and federal regulations.

District Court’s Ruling:

The court ruled the local ordinance was conflict preempted. Singer raised 4 issues and the court responded to each them.

1. Registration.

Section (b) of the ordinance says, “Owners of all pilotless aircraft shall register their pilotless aircraft with the City Clerk’s Office, either individually or as a member of a club . . . .”

Court: The City of Newton argued that the Taylor v. FAA case created a void to allow registration however there is no void created by the Taylor case. The FAA intended to be the exclusive register of unmanned aircraft. Therefore, this ordinance is conflict preempted.

2. Operational Restrictions.
A. Altitude

Subsection (c)(1)(a) prohibits pilotless aircraft flight below an altitude of 400 feet over any private property without the express permission of the property owner.

Court: This is conflict preempted because Congress intended the FAA to use airspace to integrate drones. The FAA picked 0-400ft above ground level for non-recreational flyers. This ordinance effectively frustrates Congress’ and FAA’s implementation of the integration of drones into the national airspace from 0-400ft above the ground level.

Subsection (c)(1)(e) prohibits pilotless aircraft flight over public property, at any altitude, without prior permission from Newton.

Court: This is conflict preempted because there is no altitude limit, it goes up into navigable airspace.

B. Beyond Line of Sight of the Operator

Subsection (c)(1)(b) states that no pilotless aircraft may be operated “at a distance beyond the visual line of sight of the Operator.” The Ordinance neither defines the term “Operator,” nor sets an altitude limit.

Court: The Ordinance seeks to regulate the method of operating of drones, necessarily implicating the safe operation of aircraft. Courts have recognized that aviation safety is an area of exclusive federal regulation. The Ordinance limits the methods of piloting a drone beyond that which the FAA has already designated, while also reaching into navigable space. Intervening in the FAA’s careful regulation of aircraft safety cannot stand; thus subsection (c)(1)(b) is preempted.

In short, drone registration, complete drone bans, regulating navigable airspace, or limiting “the methods of piloting a drone beyond that which the FAA has already designated” are conflict preempted.

How Does the Singer v. City of Newton Case Affect Me?

This case is only binding in the jurisdiction of the federal district court of Massachusetts. It only struck down 4 provisions of the ordinance, not all of it.  Courts from other jurisdictions can look at this ruling but do NOT need to follow it. I suspect, however, other courts will likely follow the same rationale and invalidate state and local drone laws on the grounds they are conflict preempted ONLY. They will likely not answer field preemption questions.

Keep in mind that this case can be appealed to the 1st Federal Circuit Court of Appeals (Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine) and ruled upon which would result in more people being affected. I don’t know if it will be appealed.

How Can I Use This Case?

This case is extremely important in giving state and local governments guidance on what not to do. You should send this case to any elected officials who have passed a drone law or who are considering passing a drone law.

Warning to States, Cities, and Local Governments:

Many states, cities, towns, etc. have passed drone laws which would most likely be held by this judge to be conflict preempted. This ruling is only for the jurisdiction of the federal district court of Massachusetts, but other courts around the country can be persuaded by the reasoning in this ruling. In other words, this judge teed up how other courts can easily answer these preemption laws.

This judge ruled that drone registration, complete drone bans, regulating navigable airspace, and limiting “the methods of piloting a drone beyond that which the FAA has already designated” are all conflict preempted.

Problems With This Ruling/Issues Not Addressed:

• The court ruled on the grounds of conflict preemption but did not rule that aviation was field preempted or whether the airspace was expressly preempted.
• United States v. Causby is a U.S. Supreme Court case which raises the idea of a person owning airspace from the ground up to the “immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere.” What if the City of Newton were to create drone laws that applied to Causby airspace over their property or require permission to operate in Causby airspace over private property?
• The judge gave too much deference to the FAA’s guidance document to state and local governments when preemption is primarily focusing on Congress, not an agency’s thoughts, which constantly change, on what it thinks Congress wanted.
• With conflict preemption, the City of Newton can just go back and rework the law and see if Singer files suit again or see if they get struck down again. It would have been more beneficial for the drone industry to have a ruling on whether the airspace was expressly preempted or the field of aviation is field preempted. Instead, the court ruled very narrowly to resolve the case, but leave many issues on the table.
• The court struck down particular provisions which means other states and sub-divisions will just rework their laws to not step on any of the particular “land mines” that the City of Newton stepped on.
• How low does navigable airspace descend for drones? I would argue it goes all the way to the blade of grass because that is where drones take off and land from but the judge seems to indicate navigable airspace is somehow related to 14 CFR 91.119.
• What happens if the state or government does a copy-paste of the FAA regulations or says something along the lines of “You must do whatever the FAA says”?

Actual Text of the Ruling

 

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS

 

MICHAEL S. SINGER,

Plaintiff,

CITY OF NEWTON,

Defendant.

 

YOUNG, D.J. September 21, 2017

 

FINDINGS OF FACT, RULINGS OF LAW, & ORDER

 

  1. INTRODUCTION

 

The crux of this dispute is whether portions of a certain

ordinance (the “Ordinance”) passed by the City of Newton

(“Newton”) on December 19, 2016 are preempted. First Am. Compl.

Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, ECF No. 12. Michael S.

Singer (“Singer”) challenges portions of the Ordinance which

require that all owners of pilotless aircraft (commonly referred

to as “drones” or “UAS”) register their pilotless aircraft with

Newton, and also prohibit operation of pilotless aircraft out of

the operator’s line of sight or in certain areas without permit

or express permission. Id.; Def. City Newton’s Mem. Law Supp.

Cross Mot. Summ. J. and Opp’n Pl.’s Mot. Summ. J., Ex. 2, Newton

Ordinances § 20-64, ECF No. 40-3.

 

 

In early March, Newton answered Singer’s complaint, Answer

Def. City of Newton First Am. Compl., ECF No. 17, and both

parties appeared before the Court soon after, when they agreed

to cross-file motions for summary judgment and proceed on a case

stated basis,1 Electronic Clerk’s Notes, ECF No. 21. Both

parties subsequently filed motions for summary judgment, Pl.’s

Corrected Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 34; Def. City of Newton’s Cross

Mot. Summ. J., ECF No. 39, and fully briefed the issues, Pl.’s

Corrected Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.’s Mem.”), ECF No. 35;

Pl.’s Resp. Def.’s Cross-Mot. Summ. J. (“Pl.’s Resp.”), ECF No.

50; Pl.’s Resp. City’s Statement Undisputed Facts (“Pl.’s Resp.

Facts”), ECF No. 51; Def. City Newton’s Mem. Law Supp. Cross

Mot. Summ. J. and Opp’n Pl.’s Mot. Summ. J. (“Def.’s Mem.”), ECF

No. 40; Def. City of Newton’s Statement Undisputed Facts Supp.

Cross Mot. Summ. J. and Resps. Pl.’s Statement Undisputed

Material Facts Supp. Mot. Summ. J. (“Def.’s Facts”), ECF No. 41;

1 The case stated procedure allows the Court, with the

parties’ agreement, to render a judgment based on the largely

undisputed record in cases where there are minimal factual

disputes. TLT Constr. Corp. v. RI, Inc., 484 F.3d 130, 135 n.6

(1st Cir. 2007). In its review of the record, “[t]he [C]ourt is

. . . entitled to ‘engage in a certain amount of factfinding,

including the drawing of inferences.’” Id. (quoting United

Paperworkers Int’l Union Local 14 v. International Paper Co., 64

F.3d 28, 31 (1st Cir. 1995)).See also Amici Curiae Br. (“Amicus Br.”), ECF No. 57.2 After

oral argument on June 13, 2017, this Court took the matter under

advisement. Electronic Clerk’s Notes, ECF No. 59.

 

2. FINDINGS OF FACT

Newton is a municipality in the Commonwealth of

Massachusetts and is organized under a charter pursuant to the

Home Rule Amendment of the Massachusetts Constitution. Pl.’s

Resp. Facts ¶ 1; Def.’s Facts ¶ 1. Singer resides in Newton.

Am. Compl. ¶ 22. He is a Federal Aviation Administration

(“FAA”)-certified small unmanned aircraft pilot and owns and

operates multiple drones in Newton. Id. ¶¶ 22, 25. Singer does

not operate or register his drones as a hobbyist. Tr. Case-

Stated Hearing (“Tr.”) 20:15-18, ECF No. 60.

In August 2015, members of Newton’s City Council proposed

discussing the possibility of regulating drones for the

principal purpose of protecting the privacy interests of

Newton’s residents. Pl.’s Resp. Facts ¶ 3; Def.’s Facts ¶ 3.

On March 23, 2016, an initial draft of the Ordinance was

presented for discussion. See Def.’s Mem., Ex. 3, Public Safety

& Transportation Committee Report dated Mar. 23, 2016 1, ECF No.

40-4. Following further inquiry and amendment, see, e.g.,

Def.’s Mem., Ex. 7, Public Safety & Transportation Committee

Report dated May 5, 2016 1, ECF No. 40-8; Def.’s Mem., Ex. 9,

Public Safety & Transportation Committee Report dated Sept. 7,

2016 6-7, ECF No. 40-10, but without FAA approval, Def.’s Mem.,

Ex. 16, Def. City of Newton’s Answers Pl.’s First Set Interrogs.

(“Def.’s Answers Interrogs.”) 3, ECF No. 40-17, Newton’s City

Council approved the final Ordinance on December 19, 2016,

Def.’s Mem., Ex. 12, Public Safety & Transportation Committee

Report dated Dec. 19, 2016 1, ECF No. 40-13.

 

The Ordinance states in part:

Purpose: The use of pilotless aircraft is an increasingly

popular pastime as well as learning tool. It is important

to allow beneficial uses of these devices while also

protecting the privacy of residents throughout the City.

In order to prevent nuisances and other disturbances of the

enjoyment of both public and private space, regulation of

pilotless aircraft is required. The following section is

intended to promote the public safety and welfare of the

City and its residents. In furtherance of its stated

purpose, this section is intended to be read and

interpreted in harmony with all relevant rules and

regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration, and any

other federal, state and local laws and regulations.

 

 

Def.’s Mem., Ex. 2, Newton Ordinances § 20-64, ECF No. 40-3.

“Pilotless aircraft” is defined as “an unmanned, powered aerial

vehicle, weighing less than 55 pounds, that is operated without

direct human contact from within or on the aircraft.” Id. § 20-

64(a). In section (b), the Ordinance imposes certain

registration requirements upon owners of all pilotless aircraft.

Id. § 20-64(b). Section (c) sets forth operating prohibitions, including, inter alia, a ban on the use of a pilotless aircraft

below an altitude of 400 feet over private property without the

express permission of the owner of the private property, id.

  • 20-64(c)(1)(a), “beyond the visual line of sight of the

Operator,” id. § 20-64(c)(1)(b), “in a manner that interferes

with any manned aircraft,” id. § 20-64(c)(1)(c), over Newton

city property without prior permission, id. § 20-64(c)(1)(e), or

to conduct surveillance or invade any place where a person has a

reasonable expectation of privacy, id. § 20-64(c)(1)(f)-(g).

Violations of the Ordinance are punishable by a $50 fine

following a one-time warning. Id. § 20-64(f).

 

III. RULINGS OF LAW

Specifically, Singer challenges four subsections of the

Ordinance: the registration requirements of section (b) and the

operation limits of subsections (c)(1)(a), (c)(1)(b), and

(c)(1)(e). Pl.’s Mem 3-4; Pl.’s Resp. i. Singer argues that

the Ordinance is preempted by federal law because it attempts to

regulate an almost exclusively federal area of law, Pl.’s Mem.

6-15, in a way that conflicts with Congress’s purpose, id. at

14-15. In turn, Newton posits that the Ordinance is not

preempted by federal law because it falls within an area of law

that the FAA expressly carved out for local governments to

regulate, Def.’s Mem. 8-10, and thus can be read in harmony with

federal aviation laws and regulations, id. at 10-11.

A. Preemption Standards

The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution

provides that federal laws are supreme, U.S. Const. art. VI, cl.

2, thus requiring that federal laws preempt any conflicting

state or local regulations, see Maryland v. Louisiana, 451 U.S.

725, 746 (1981) (citing McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 427

(1819)). Under our federalist system, however, a court must be

wary of invalidating laws in areas traditionally left to the

states unless the court is entirely convinced that Congress

intended to override state regulation. See, e.g., Gregory v.

Ashcroft, 501 U.S. 452, 460 (1991) (citing Atascadero State

Hosp. v. Scanlon, 473 U.S. 234, 243 (1985)). In contrast, if a

state government attempts to regulate an area traditionally

occupied by the federal government, a court need not seek to

avoid preemption. See United States v. Locke, 529 U.S. 89, 108

(2000). Neither of these circumstances requires that Congress

explicitly have stated its purpose; “[t]he question, at bottom,

is one of statutory intent.” Morales v. Trans World Airlines,

Inc., 504 U.S. 374, 383 (1992).

 

If Congress has not expressly preempted an area of law,

then a court must determine whether field or conflict preemption

is evident. See French v. Pan Am Express, Inc., 869 F.2d 1, 2

(1st Cir. 1989). Field preemption occurs where federal

regulation is so pervasive and dominant that one can infer

Congressional intent to occupy the field. See Massachusetts

Ass’n of Health Maint. Orgs. v. Ruthardt, 194 F.3d 176, 179 (1st

Cir. 1999) (citing Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S.

218, 230 (1947); French, 869 F.2d at 2). Conflict preemption

arises when compliance with both state and federal regulations

is impossible or if state law obstructs the objectives of the

federal regulation. See Grant’s Dairy – Me., LLC v.

Commissioner of Me. Dept. of Agric., Food & Rural Res., 232 F.3d

8, 15 (1st Cir. 2000) (citing Gade v. National Solid Wastes

Mgmt. Ass’n, 505 U.S. 88, 98 (1992)).

B. The Federal Aviation Administration

Congress has stated that “[t]he United States Government

has exclusive sovereignty of airspace of the United States.” 49

U.S.C. § 40103(a)(1). This declaration does not preclude states

or municipalities from passing any valid aviation regulations,

see Braniff Airways v. Nebraska State Bd. of Equalization &

Assessment, 347 U.S. 590, 595 (1954), but courts generally

recognize that Congress extensively controls much of the field,

see, e.g., Chicago & S. Air Lines, Inc. v. Waterman Steamship

Corp., 333 U.S. 103, 105, 107 (1948); United Parcel Serv., Inc.

Flores-Galarza, 318 F.3d 323, 336 (1st Cir. 2003).

Accordingly, where a state’s exercise of police power infringes

upon the federal government’s regulation of aviation, state law

is preempted. See City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal

Inc., 411 U.S. 624, 638-39 (1973).

In the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Congress

directed the FAA to “develop a comprehensive plan to safely

accelerate the integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems

into the national airspace system,” FAA Modernization and Reform

Act of 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-95 § 332, 126 Stat. 11, 73 (2012)

(codified at 49 U.S.C. § 40101 note), while limiting the FAA

from “promulgat[ing] any rule or regulation regarding a model

aircraft,” id. § 336(a). Under this directive, the FAA

promulgated 14 C.F.R. part 107, which declares that it “applies

to the registration, airman certification, and operation of

civil small unmanned aircraft systems[3] within the United

States.” 14 C.F.R. § 107.1(a). The rule requires, inter alia,

that anyone controlling a small unmanned aircraft system

register with the FAA, id. §§ 91.203, 107.13; and keep the

aircraft within the visual line of sight of the operator or a

designated visual observer, id. §§ 107.3, 107.31, and below an

altitude of 400 feet above ground level or within a 400 foot

radius of a structure, id. § 107.51(b).

 

 

  1. Field Preemption

Singer argues that because the federal government regulates

unmanned aircraft and local aircraft operations, there is

federal intent to occupy the field. Pl.’s Mem. 6-11; Pl.’s

Resp. 3; see also Amicus Br. 7-29. Newton does not challenge

that aviation is a traditionally federal field, but counters

that federal regulations explicitly grant local authorities the

power to co-regulate unmanned aircraft. Def.’s Mem. 8-11.

The FAA has stated:

 

[C]ertain legal aspects concerning small UAS use may be

best addressed at the State or local level. For example,

State law and other legal protections for individual

privacy may provide recourse for a person whose privacy may

be affected through another person’s use of a UAS.

. . . The Fact Sheet also summarizes the Federal

responsibility for ensuring the safety of flight as well as

the safety of people and property on the ground as a result

of the operation of aircraft. Substantial air safety

issues are implicated when State or local governments

attempt to regulate the operation of aircraft in the

national airspace. The Fact Sheet provides examples of

State and local laws affecting UAS for which consultation

with the FAA is recommended and those that are likely to

fall within State and local government authority. For

example, consultation with FAA is recommended when State or

local governments enact operation UAS restrictions on

flight altitude, flight paths; operational bans; or any

regulation of the navigable airspace. The Fact Sheet also

notes that laws traditionally related to State and local

police power — including land use, zoning, privacy,

trespass, and law enforcement operations — generally are

not subject to Federal regulation.

 

81 Fed. Reg. 42063 § (III)(K)(6). Thus, the FAA explicitly

contemplates state or local regulation of pilotless aircraft,

defeating Singer’s argument that the whole field is exclusive to the federal government. The FAA’s guidance, however, does not

go quite as far as Newton argues — rather than an express

carve-out for state and localities to regulate, the guidance

hints that whether parallel regulations are enforceable depends

on the principles of conflict preemption.4

D. Conflict Preemption

Singer argues that the challenged sections of the Ordinance

obstruct federal objectives and directly conflict with federal

regulations. Pl.’s Mem. 11-17. Newton fails to respond

specifically to these arguments, again asserting that the FAA

has granted states and localities the power to co-regulate

pilotless aircraft. Def.’s Mem. 8-11. The Court addresses each

challenged subsection of the Ordinance in turn.

 

  1. Section (b)

Singer argues that section (b) of the Ordinance infringes

upon and impermissibly exceeds the FAA’s exclusive registration

requirements. Pl.’s Mem. 11-15; Pl.’s Resp. 6-7. Section (b)

states: “Owners of all pilotless aircraft shall register their

pilotless aircraft with the City Clerk’s Office, either

individually or as a member of a club . . . .” Newton

Ordinances § 20-64(b). The Ordinance defines “pilotless aircraft” as “an unmanned, powered aerial vehicle, weighing less

than 55 pounds, that is operated without direct human contact

from within or on the aircraft.” Id. § 20-64(a).

The FAA has also implemented mandatory registration of

certain drones. See 14 C.F.R. §§ 48.1-48.205. Although such

registration initially applied both to model and commercial

drones, the FAA may not require registration of model aircraft,

because doing so would directly conflict with the Congressional

mandate in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act. See Taylor v.

Huerta, 856 F.3d 1089, 1092, 1094 (D.C. Cir. 2017). Newton

argues that this space creates a void in which the city may

regulate drones. Tr. 9:5-10:1. The FAA, however, explicitly

has indicated its intent to be the exclusive regulatory

authority for registration of pilotless aircraft: “Because

Federal registration is the exclusive means for registering UAS

for purposes of operating an aircraft in navigable airspace, no

state or local government may impose an additional registration

requirement on the operation of UAS in navigable airspace

without first obtaining FAA approval.” Def.’s Mem., Ex. 14,

State and Local Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Fact Sheet5 (“FAA UAS Fact Sheet”) 2, ECF No. 40-15. Newton did

5 Although the FAA UAS Fact Sheet is not a formal rule, it

is the FAA’s interpretation of its own rule, which this Court

accords deference under Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co., 325

U.S. 410, 413-14 (1945). not obtain FAA approval before enacting the Ordinance. Def.’s

Answers Interrogs. 3. Further, regardless of whether there is

some space that would allow Newton to require registration of

model drones, here Newton seeks to register all drones, Tr.

10:3-14, without limit as to the at which altitude they operate,

in clear derogation of the FAA’s intended authority.

Accordingly, the Ordinance’s registration requirements are

preempted.

 

  1. Subsections (c)(1)(a) and (c)(1)(e)

Singer argues that subsections (c)(1)(a) and (c)(1)(e)

conflict with FAA-permitted flight, Pl.’s Mem. 11, and restrict

flight within the navigable airspace, id. at 12-14. Subsection

(c)(1)(a) prohibits pilotless aircraft flight below an altitude

of 400 feet over any private property without the express

permission of the property owner. Newton Ordinances § 20-

64(c)(1)(a). Subsection (c)(1)(e) prohibits pilotless aircraft

flight over public property without prior permission from

Newton. Id. § 20-64(c)(1)(e). Notably, subsection (c)(1)(e)

does not limit its reach to any altitude. See id. This alone

is a ground for preemption of the subsection because it

certainly reaches into navigable airspace, see 49 U.S.C.

40102(a)(32); 14 C.F.R. § 91.119. Subsections (c)(1)(a) and

(c)(1)(e) work in tandem, however, to create an essential ban on

drone use within the limits of Newton. Nowhere in the city may an individual operate a drone without first having permission

from the owner of the land below, be that Newton or a private

landowner.

 

The FAA is charged with “prescrib[ing] air traffic

regulations on the flight of aircraft . . . for —

(A) navigating, protecting, and identifying aircraft;

(B) protecting individuals and property on the ground; [and]

(C) using the navigable airspace efficiently.” 49 U.S.C.

40103(b)(2). In 2012, Congress tasked the FAA with

“develop[ing] a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the

integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national

airspace system.” Pub. L. No. 112-95 § 332. In so doing, the

FAA mandated that drone operators keep drones below an altitude

of 400 feet from the ground or a structure. 14 C.F.R.

107.51(b). Newton’s choice to restrict any drone use below

this altitude thus works to eliminate any drone use in the

confines of the city, absent prior permission. This thwarts not

only the FAA’s objectives, but also those of Congress for the

FAA to integrate drones into the national airspace. Although

Congress and the FAA may have contemplated co-regulation of

drones to a certain extent, see 81 Fed. Reg. 42063

  • (III)(K)(6), this hardly permits an interpretation that

essentially constitutes a wholesale ban on drone use in Newton.

Accordingly, subsections (c)(1)(a) and (c)(1)(e) are preempted.

 

  1. Subsection (c)(1)(b)

Singer argues that subsection (c)(1)(b) conflicts with the

FAA’s visual observer rule and related waiver process, which

only the FAA can modify. Pl.’s Mem. 13 (citing 49 U.S.C.

  • 106(f)(2), (g)(1); 14 C.F.R. §§ 107.31, 107.205). Subsection

(c)(1)(b) states that no pilotless aircraft may be operated “at

a distance beyond the visual line of sight of the Operator.”

Newton Ordinances § 20-64(c)(1)(b). The Ordinance neither

defines the term “Operator,” nor sets an altitude limit.

The FAA “requires a delicate balance between safety and

efficiency, and the protection of persons on the ground . . . .

The interdependence of these factors requires a uniform and

exclusive system of federal regulation.” City of Burbank, 411

U.S. at 638-39 (internal citations omitted). The Ordinance

seeks to regulate the method of operating of drones, necessarily

implicating the safe operation of aircraft. Courts have

recognized that aviation safety is an area of exclusive federal

regulation. See, e.g., Goodspeed Airport LLC v. East Haddam

Inland Wetlands & Watercourses Comm’n, 634 F.3d 206, 208 (2d

Cir. 2011) (“Congress has established its intent to occupy the

entire field of air safety, thereby preempting state regulation

of that field.”); US Airways, Inc. v. O’Donnell, 627 F.3d 1318,

1326 (10th Cir. 2010) (“[F]ederal regulation occupies the field

of aviation safety to the exclusion of state regulations.”); Montalvo v. Spirit Airlines, 508 F.3d 464, 470 (9th Cir. 2007)

(“Congress has indicated its intent to occupy the field of

aviation safety.”). The First Circuit, in fact, has ruled “that

Congress intended to occupy the field of pilot regulation

related to air safety.” French, 869 F.2d at 4. In French, the

First Circuit took note of Congress’s delegation of authority to

the FAA to issue the certificate — and the terms for obtaining

it — required for any person to pilot a commercial aircraft.

See id. at 3. Concluding that this grant of authority and the

FAA’s subsequent regulations expressed Congress’s intent to

preempt any state law in the area, id. at 4, the First Circuit

struck down Rhode Island’s statute requiring airline pilots to

submit to drug testing, see id. at 7.

 

The circumstances are not so different here. Congress has

given the FAA the responsibility of regulating the use of

airspace for aircraft navigation and to protect individuals and

property on the ground, 49 U.S.C. § 40103(b)(2), and has

specifically directed the FAA to integrate drones into the

national airspace system, Pub. L. No. 112-95 § 332. In

furtherance of this duty, the FAA has designated specific rules

regarding the visual line of sight for pilotless aircraft

operation. See 14 C.F.R. §§ 107.31-35, 107.205. First, the FAA

requires either that (1) a remote pilot both command and

manipulate the flight controls or (2) a visual observer be able to see the drone throughout its flight. Id. § 107.31. The

regulations define “visual observer” as “a person who is

designated by the remote pilot in command to assist the remote

pilot in command and the person manipulating the flight controls

of the small UAS to see and avoid other air traffic or objects

aloft or on the ground.” Id. § 107.3. Second, the FAA allows

waiver of the visual observer rule. Id. §§ 107.200, 205.

The Ordinance limits the methods of piloting a drone beyond

that which the FAA has already designated, while also reaching

into navigable space. See Newton Ordinances § 20-64(c)(1)(b).

Intervening in the FAA’s careful regulation of aircraft safety

cannot stand; thus subsection (c)(1)(b) is preempted.

 

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, this Court holds that Ordinance

sections (b), (c)(1)(a), (c)(1)(b), and (c)(1)(e) are preempted

and judgment will enter so declaring. As it is unchallenged,

the remainder of Newton’s Ordinance stands. Of course, nothing

prevents Newton from re-drafting the Ordinance to avoid conflict

preemption.

 

SO ORDERED.

/s/ William G. Young

WILLIAM G. YOUNG

DISTRICT JUDGE

 

Actual Text of Newton’s Ordinance

Sec. 20-64. Pilotless Aircraft Operation.

Purpose: The use of pilotless aircraft is an increasingly popular pastime as well as learning tool. It is important

to allow beneficial uses of these devices while also protecting the privacy of residents throughout the City. In

order to prevent nuisances and other disturbances of the enjoyment of both public and private space, regulation of

pilotless aircraft is required. The following section is intended to promote the public safety and welfare of the City

and its residents. In furtherance of its stated purpose, this section is intended to be read and interpreted in harmony

with all relevant rules and regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration, and any other federal, state and

local laws and regulations.

 

(a) Definitions:

Pilotless Aircraft – an unmanned, powered aerial vehicle, weighing less than 55 pounds, that is operated

without direct human contact from within or on the aircraft.

(b) Registration: Owners of all pilotless aircraft shall register their pilotless aircraft with the City Clerk’s Office,

either individually or as a member of a club, as follows:

(1) Individual Registration: Individual owners of pilotless aircraft shall register each pilotless aircraft with the

City Clerk’s office, prior to operation. The cost of registration shall be $10.00 per Owner and such cost of

registration shall include all pilotless aircraft owned by the Owner. Owners must have proof of

registration in their possession when operating a pilotless aircraft. Registration shall include the

following:

  1. a) The owner’s name, address, email address and phone number;
  2. b) The make, model, and serial number, if available, of each pilotless aircraft to be registered;
  3. c) A copy of the Owner’s Federal Aviation Administration Certificate of Registration for pilotless

aircraft;

 

(2) Club Registration: Members of a pilotless aircraft hobby club may register their pilotless aircraft through a

responsible adult member of the Club. Each Club shall be issued a single identifying registration number

by the City Clerk’s Office to be affixed to each pilotless aircraft belonging to members of the Club. The

cost of Club Registration shall be $10 per Club and the cost of registration shall include all members of

that Club. The responsible adult member shall update the Club’s roster of members with the Clerk’s

office on an annual basis. All other requirements of Section 2(a)(i-iii) shall apply to Club registration.

(c) Operating Prohibitions. The use and operation of all pilotless aircraft within the City shall be subject to the

following prohibitions.

(1) No pilotless aircraft shall be operated:

  1. a) over private property at an altitude below 400 feet without the express permission of the owner of said private property;
  2. b) at a distance beyond the visual line of sight of the Operator;
  3. c) in a manner that interferes with any manned aircraft;
  4. d) in a reckless, careless or negligent manner;
  5. e) over any school, school grounds, or other City property or sporting event without prior permission

from the City, unless a permit is required as in Section 4, below;

  1. f) for the purpose of conducting surveillance unless expressly permitted by law or court order;
  2. g) for the purpose of capturing a person’s visual image, audio recording or other physical impression in

any place where that person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy;

  1. h) over any emergency response efforts;
  2. i) with the intent to harass, annoy, or assault a person, or to create or cause a public nuisance;
  3. j) in violation of federal or state law, or any Ordinance of the City of Newton.

(2) The Chief of Police, or designee, may prohibit the use or operation of pilotless aircraft where it is allowed,

or allow the operation of pilotless aircraft where it is prohibited, during an impending or existing

emergency, or when such use or operation would pose a threat to public safety.

(d) Permit May be Required:

 

(1) Individual Permits: A permit may be required to use land maintained by the Parks and Recreation

Department, or by any other Department or Commission of the City, to launch or land a pilotless aircraft.

Such permits may be issued by the Parks and Recreation Department Head, or designee, or the City entity

charged with managing the property, or designee. Individual operators shall adhere to the registration

requirements of Section 2 above.

 

(2) Event Permits: The Parks and Recreation Department, or any Department or Commission charged with

managing land owned by the City, may issue Permits for groups and special events. Such Event Permits

will be issued to a responsible person who will insure that all operators participating in the event adhere to

the requirements of this ordinance, except that individual participants in an event under this subsection are

not required to register in accordance with Section 2.

 

(3) Educational Permits: The Parks and Recreation Department, or any other City agency with authority over

the use and maintenance of City land, may permit the operation of pilotless aircraft for educational

purposes. Educational permits must be issued to a responsible adult, and in conjunction with an

educational purpose sanctioned by an educational organization.

 

(e) Noise Ordinance: All Operators shall comply with the Noise Ordinance at Section 20-13, as amended, at all

times while operating pilotless aircraft within the City.

(f) Penalties: A violation of any section of this Ordinance shall result in a warning for the first offense and shall

be punishable by a fine of $50.00 for each offense thereafter.

(g) Separate Violations: Action taken pursuant to this section shall not bar any separate action by any other City

Department for any other violations.

(h) Severability: If any provision of this section is held to be invalid by a court of competent jurisdiction then

such provision shall be considered severable from the remaining provisions, which shall remain in full force and

effect.

(i) Regulations: The City and its Departments may promulgate rules, regulations and policies for the

implementation of this Ordinance. (Ord. No. A-96, 12-19-16)


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.

California Drone Laws (2018)

NOTICE: This article is for information purposes only!  This article is ONLY for state laws that are DRONE specific. Local laws and “aircraft” related laws could potentially apply and were outside of the focus of this article. It might NOT be up to date. You should seek out a competent attorney licensed in the state you are interested in before operating.

Researching? I created a page on Drone Laws(federal, state, & international) and another on only US drone laws by state.

Current as of February 21, 2017

 

Caltrans announced their policy here.

 

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.

Georgia Drone Laws (2018)

NOTICE: This article is for information purposes only!  This article is ONLY for state laws that are DRONE specific. Local laws and “aircraft” related laws could potentially apply and were outside of the focus of this article. It might NOT be up to date. You should seek out a competent attorney licensed in the state you are interested in before operating.

Researching? I created a page on Drone Laws(federal, state, & international) and another on only US drone laws by state.

 Current as of July 1, 2017

6-1-4 of Official Code of Georgia Annotated

(a)

(1) As used in this Code section, the term ‘unmanned aircraft system’ means a powered, aerial vehicle that:

(A) Does not carry a human operator and is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft;

(B) Uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift;

(C) Can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely; and

(D) Can be expendable or recoverable.

(2) Such term shall not include a satellite.

(b) Any ordinance, resolution, regulation, or policy of any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state regulating the testing or operation of unmanned aircraft systems shall be deemed preempted and shall be null, void, and of no force and effect; provided, however, that a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state may:

(1) Enforce any ordinance that was adopted on or before April 1, 2017;

(2) Adopt an ordinance that enforces Federal Aviation Administration restrictions; or

(3) Adopt an ordinance that provides for or prohibits the launch or intentional landing of an unmanned aircraft system from or on its public property except with respect to the operation of an unmanned aircraft system for commercial purposes.

(c) The state, through agency or departmental rules and regulations, may provide for or prohibit the launch or intentional landing of an unmanned aircraft system from or on its public property.

 

 

The Georgia House passed a resolution (HR 744) to create a committee to look into drones.  The committee issued their report on December 1, 2015.  The report listed out specifically 15 recommendations. While not law, it gives us a “flavor” as to what the Georgia House is thinking.

 

1. Continue to monitor FAA Regulations with regards to registration requirements of hobbyist operators. The committee does not want to duplicate the process or hinder the industry.

2. Form a commission made up of legislators, researchers, industry experts, and others deemed appropriate to help develop policy and encourage industry expansion within the state.

3. Continue to encourage our universities and technical colleges to find ways to get involved by offering classes, certifications, or any other opportunities that may be deemed necessary.

4. Encourage the state and its agencies to use drone technology in areas where it could provide a cost savings or improve safety.

5. Look for opportunities to encourage venture capitalists to help with startups in Georgia.

6. Protect citizen privacy by making it unlawful to video or photograph another person’s property without permission with limited exceptions to this.

7. Prohibit weaponizing a drone. 8. Make it a violation to fly in or around certain locations such as the capitol.

9. Allow local governments to restrict the use of drones on their publically owned land.

10. Make it unlawful to fly around or to interfere with an emergency scene or to interfere with public safety personnel carrying out official duties.

11. Require law enforcement to have a search warrant to use drones in areas to collect evidence where someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

12. Require any videos or photos taken of private property by a government entity without evidentiary value to a specific case to be purged.

13. Make it unlawful to take off from or to recover a drone from private or public property without permission.

14. Prohibit use of drones for hunting and fishing or to use a drone to interfere with someone else that is hunting, fishing, or trapping.

15. Prohibit the use of drones within so many feet of a public road without permission.

The Governor of Georgia issued on November 2nd, 2016 an executive order “That a Commission on Unmanned Aircraft Technology appointed by the Governor is hereby created to make state-level recommendations to the Governor consistent with current FAA regulations as well as the State’s business and public safety interests.”

The Governor appointed to the commission:

  • David Vigilante, Legal Senior Vice President, CNN
  • Christopher Davidson, State Archivist/Assistant Vice Chancellor, Georgia Archives, Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia
  • Jacob Hinton, Partner, Flyover Services LLC
  • Lewis Massey, Partner, Massey, Watson & Hembree LLC
  • Michael Wall, VP of Government and Regulatory Affairs, Comcast (Georgia)
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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.

Connecticut Drone Laws (2018)

NOTICE: This article is for information purposes only!  This article is ONLY for state laws that are DRONE specific. Local laws and “aircraft” related laws could potentially apply and were outside of the focus of this article. It might NOT be up to date. You should seek out a competent attorney licensed in the state you are interested in before operating.

Researching? I created a page on Drone Laws(federal, state, & international) and another on only US drone laws by state.

 Current as of July 1, 2017

Public Act No. 17-52

AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPALITIES AND UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective from passage) (a) As used in this section, “commercial unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft operated remotely by a pilot in command holding a valid remote pilot certificate with a small unmanned aircraft systems rating issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.

(b) No municipality shall enact or enforce an ordinance or resolution that regulates the ownership, possession, purchase, sale, use, transportation or operation of any commercial unmanned aircraft or otherwise regulate the ownership, possession, purchase, sale, use, transportation or operation of such aircraft, except as otherwise authorized by state and federal law, and to the extent they do not conflict with policies and procedures adopted by the Connecticut Airport Authority.

Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, any municipality that is also a water company, as defined in section 25-32a of the general statutes, may enact and enforce ordinances or resolutions that regulate or prohibit the use or operation of private and commercial unmanned aircraft over such municipality’s public water supply and Class I or Class II land, as described in section 25-37c of the general statutes, provided such ordinances or resolutions do not conflict with federal law or policies and procedures adopted by the Connecticut Airport Authority.

Approved June 13, 2017

 

Connecticut General Assembly committee issued a report in 2014 on Drone Use Regulation. It is best to read this report as it details how many Connecticut laws could apply to drones. Keep in mind this was done in 2014 so some laws could have changed.

 

Additionally, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection created a page on remote controlled model aircraft or drones letting them know that their use is “prohibited at Connecticut State Parks, State Forests or other lands under the control of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, unless specifically authorized by the Commissioner in a Special Use License.” The page also mentions that noise, hazards, wildlife disruption regulations could apply.

Want All the State Drone Laws in a PDF?

Sign up for the drone newsletter and receive the PDF and great articles.

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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.

Oregon Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This article is for information purposes only!  This article is ONLY for state laws that are DRONE specific. Local laws and “aircraft” related laws could potentially apply and were outside of the focus of this article. It might NOT be up to date. You should seek out a competent attorney licensed in the state you are interested in before operating.

Researching? I created a page on Drone Laws(federal, state, & international) and another on only US drone laws by state.

 Current as of February 21, 2017

Oregon passed HB 4066, HB 2710, HB 2354, and HB3047. The Oregon Revise Statutes were published in 2015 so many of the updates below are NOT included yet in the 2015 revised statutes. Oregon will be publishing them again in 2017 with the amendments. I attempted to add the amendments from  HB 4066 and HB 3047 into the text below.

Section 164.885

(1) A person commits the crime of endangering aircraft in the first degree if the person knowingly:

. . . . .

(4) As used in this section:

(a) “Aircraft” does not include an unmanned aircraft system as defined in ORS 837.300.

(b) “Restricted access area” means an area of a commercial service airport that is:

(A) Designated as restricted in the airport security program approved by the federal Transportation Security Administration; and

(B) Marked at points of entry with signs giving notice that access to the area is restricted

Section Undefined (Passed as law but waiting on location to where it is to be added between 837.300-390)

Reckless interference with aircraft; penalty. A person commits a Class A violation if the person possesses or controls an unmanned aircraft system and recklessly causes the unmanned aircraft system to:

(1) Direct a laser at an aircraft while the aircraft is in the air;

(2) Crash into an aircraft while the aircraft is in the air; or

(3) Prevent the takeoff or landing of an aircraft.

Section Undefined (Passed as law but waiting on location to where it is to be added between 837.300-390)

Policies and procedures for use of data.

(1) A public body that operates an unmanned aircraft system shall establish policies and procedures for the use, storage, accessing, sharing and retention of data, including but not limited to video and audio recordings, resulting from the operation of the unmanned aircraft system.

(2) The public body shall post the following information on the public body’s website or otherwise make the following information available to the public:

(a) The policies and procedures established under this section.

(b) The text of ORS 192.501.

(3) The policies and procedures established under this section must include:

(a) The length of time data will be retained by the public body.

(b) Specifications for third party storage of data, including handling, security and access to the data by the third party.

(c) A policy on disclosure of data through intergovernmental agreements.

Section 837.300

(1) “Aircraft” has the meaning given that term in ORS 836.005.

(2) “Law enforcement agency” means an agency that employs peace officers, as defined in ORS 133.005, or that prosecutes offenses.

(3) “Public body” has the meaning given that term in ORS 174.109.

(4) “Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned flying machine, commonly known as a drone, and its associated elements, including communication links and the components that control the machine.

(5) “Warrant” means a warrant issued under ORS 133.525 to 133.703

 

837.310 Restrictions; exceptions. 

(1) Except as otherwise provided in ORS 837.310 to 837.345, a law enforcement agency may not operate an unmanned aircraft system, acquire information through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system or disclose information acquired through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system.

(2) Any image or other information that is acquired through the use of an unmanned aircraft system by a law enforcement agency in violation of ORS 837.310 to 837.345, and any evidence derived from that image or information:

(a) Is not admissible in, and may not be disclosed in, a judicial proceeding, administrative proceeding, arbitration proceeding or other adjudicatory proceeding; and

(b) May not be used to establish reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed. [2013 c.686 §2; 2015 c.315 §2]

 

837.320 Authorized use upon issuance of warrant; exigent circumstances. 

(1) A law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system, acquire information through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, or disclose information acquired through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, if:

(a) A warrant is issued authorizing use of an unmanned aircraft system; or

(b) The law enforcement agency has probable cause to believe that a person has committed a crime, is committing a crime or is about to commit a crime, and exigent circumstances exist that make it unreasonable for the law enforcement agency to obtain a warrant authorizing use of an unmanned aircraft system.

(2) A warrant authorizing the use of an unmanned aircraft system must specify the period for which operation of the unmanned aircraft system is authorized. In no event may a warrant provide for the operation of an unmanned aircraft system for a period of more than 30 days. Upon motion and good cause shown, a court may renew a warrant after the expiration of the 30-day period. [2013 c.686 §3; 2015 c.315 §3]

 

837.330 Written consent. 

A law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system for the purpose of acquiring information about an individual, or about the individual’s property, if the individual has given written consent to the use of an unmanned aircraft system for those purposes. [2013 c.686 §4; 2015 c.315 §4]

837.335 Search and rescue; use in emergencies. 

(1) A law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system, acquire information through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, or disclose information acquired through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, for the purpose of search and rescue activities, as defined in ORS 404.200.

(2) A law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system, acquire information through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, or disclose information acquired through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, for the purpose of assisting an individual in an emergency if:

(a) The law enforcement agency reasonably believes that there is an imminent threat to the life or safety of the individual, and documents the factual basis for that belief; and

(b) Not more than 48 hours after the emergency operation begins, an official of the law enforcement agency files a sworn statement with the circuit court that describes the nature of the emergency and the need for use of an unmanned aircraft system.

(3) A law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system, acquire information through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, or disclose information acquired through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, during a state of emergency that is declared by the Governor under ORS chapter 401 if:

(a) The unmanned aircraft system is used only for the purposes of preserving public safety, protecting property or conducting surveillance for the assessment and evaluation of environmental or weather related damage, erosion or contamination; and

(b) The unmanned aircraft system is operated only in the geographical area specified in a proclamation pursuant to ORS 401.165 (5). [2013 c.686 §5; 2015 c.315 §5]

 

837.340 Criminal investigations. 

(1) A law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system, acquire information through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, or disclose information acquired through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, for the purpose of reconstruction of a specific crime scene or accident scene, or similar physical assessment, related to a specific criminal investigation.

(2) The period that a law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system under this section may not exceed five days for the purpose of reconstruction of a specific crime scene, or similar physical assessment, related to a specific criminal investigation.

837.345 Training. 

(1) A law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system for the purpose of training in:

(a) The use of unmanned aircraft systems; and

(b) The acquisition of information through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system.

(2) Any image or other information that is acquired through the use of an unmanned aircraft system by a law enforcement agency under this section, and any evidence derived from that image or information:

(a) Is not admissible in, and may not be disclosed in, a judicial proceeding, administrative proceeding, arbitration proceeding or other adjudicatory proceeding; and

(b) May not be used to establish reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed.

 

837.360 Restrictions; civil penalties; registration; fees; rules. 

(1) A public body may not operate an unmanned aircraft system in the airspace over this state without registering the unmanned aircraft system with the Oregon Department of Aviation.

(2) The Oregon Department of Aviation may impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000 against a public body that violates subsection (1) of this section.

(3) Evidence obtained by a public body through the use of an unmanned aircraft system in violation of subsection (1) of this section is not admissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding and may not be used to establish reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed.

(4) The Oregon Department of Aviation shall establish a registry of unmanned aircraft systems operated by public bodies and may charge a fee sufficient to reimburse the department for the maintenance of the registry.

(5) The Oregon Department of Aviation shall require the following information for registration of an unmanned aircraft system:

(a) The name of the public body that owns or operates the unmanned aircraft system.

(b) The name and contact information of the individuals who operate the unmanned aircraft system.

(c) Identifying information for the unmanned aircraft system as required by the department by rule.

(6) A public body that registers one or more unmanned aircraft systems under this section shall provide an annual report to the Oregon Department of Aviation that:

(a) Summarizes the frequency of use of the unmanned aircraft systems by the public body

during the preceding calendar year;

(b) Summarizes the purposes for which the unmanned aircraft systems have been used by the public body during the preceding calendar year; and

(c) Indicates how the public can access the policies and procedures established under section 7 of this 2016 Act.

(7) The State Aviation Board may adopt all rules necessary for the registration of unmanned aircraft systems in Oregon that are consistent with federal laws and regulations.

Section 9 of HB4066 said:

(1) Section 7 of this 2016 Act and the amendments to ORS 837.360 by section 8 of this 2016 Act become operative on January 1, 2017.

(2) A public body may take any action before the operative date specified in subsection (1) of this section that is necessary to enable the public body to exercise, on and after the operative date specified in subsection (1) of this section, all the duties, functions and powers conferred on the public body by section 7 of this 2016 Act and the amendments to ORS 837.360 by section 8 of this 2016 Act.

837.365 Weaponized unmanned aircraft systems. 

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a person may not intentionally, knowingly or recklessly operate or cause to be operated an unmanned aircraft system that is capable of firing a bullet or projectile or otherwise operate or cause to be operated an unmanned aircraft system in a manner that causes the system to function as a dangerous weapon as defined in ORS 161.015.

(2)

(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subsection, violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
(b) If the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly operates an unmanned aircraft system to fire a bullet or projectile or otherwise operates an unmanned aircraft system in a manner that causes the system to function as a dangerous weapon as defined in ORS 161.015, violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class C felony.
(c) If the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly operates an unmanned aircraft system to fire a bullet or projectile or otherwise operates an unmanned aircraft system in a manner that causes the system to function as a dangerous weapon as defined in ORS 161.015, and the operation of the unmanned aircraft system causes serious physical injury to another person as both terms are defined in ORS 161.015, violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class B felony.

(3) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply if:

(a) The person uses the unmanned aircraft system to release, discharge, propel or eject a nonlethal projectile for purposes other than to injure or kill persons or animals;
(b) The person uses the unmanned aircraft system for nonrecreational purposes in compliance with specific authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration;
(c) The person notifies the Oregon Department of Aviation, the Oregon State Police and any other agency that issues a permit or license for the activity requiring the use of the unmanned aircraft system of the time and location at which the person intends to use an unmanned aircraft system that is capable of releasing, discharging, propelling or ejecting a projectile at least five days before the person uses the system;
(d) If the person intends to use an unmanned aircraft system that is capable of releasing, discharging, propelling or ejecting a projectile in an area open to the public, the person provides reasonable notice to the public of the time and location at which the person intends to use the unmanned aircraft system; and
(e) The person maintains a liability insurance policy in an amount not less than $1 million that covers injury resulting from use of the unmanned aircraft system.

(4) The notification requirement of subsection (3)(c) of this section does not apply to:

(a) A career school licensed under ORS 345.010 to 345.450;
(b) A community college as defined in ORS 341.005;
(c) An education service district as defined in ORS 334.003;
(d) The Oregon Health and Science University;
(e) A public university listed in ORS 352.002; or
(f) An institution that is exempt from ORS 348.594 to 348.615 under ORS 348.597 (2).

(5) Notwithstanding subsection (3) of this section, a person may not use an unmanned aircraft system that is capable of releasing, discharging, propelling or ejecting a projectile for purposes of crowd management.

837.375 Interference with an unmanned aircraft system; unauthorized control. 

In addition to any other remedies allowed by law, a person who intentionally interferes with, or gains unauthorized control over, an unmanned aircraft system licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, or operated by the Armed Forces of the United States as defined in ORS 352.313, an agency of the United States or a federal, state or local law enforcement agency, is liable to the owner of the unmanned aircraft system in an amount of not less than $5,000. The court shall award reasonable attorney fees to a prevailing plaintiff in an action under this section.

837.380 Owners of real property; Attorney General.

(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person who owns or lawfully occupies real property in this state may bring an action against any person or public body that operates an unmanned aircraft system that is flown over the property if:

(a) The operator of the unmanned aircraft system has flown the unmanned aircraft system over the property on at least one previous occasion; and

(b) The person notified the owner or operator of the unmanned aircraft system that the person did not want the unmanned aircraft system flown over the property.

(2) A person may not bring an action under this section if:

(a) The unmanned aircraft system is lawfully in the flight path for landing at an airport, airfield or runway; and

(b) The unmanned aircraft system is in the process of taking off or landing.

(3) A person may not bring an action under this section if the unmanned aircraft system is operated for commercial purposes in compliance with authorization granted by the Federal Aviation Administration. This subsection does not preclude a person from bringing another civil action, including but not limited to an action for invasion of privacy or an action for invasion of personal privacy under ORS 30.865.

(4) A prevailing plaintiff may recover treble damages for any injury to the person or the property by reason of a trespass by an unmanned aircraft system as described in this section, and may be awarded injunctive relief in the action.

(5) A prevailing plaintiff may recover attorney fees under ORS 20.080 if the amount pleaded in an action under this section is $10,000 or less.

(6) The Attorney General, on behalf of the State of Oregon, may bring an action or claim for relief alleging nuisance or trespass arising from the operation of an unmanned aircraft system in the airspace over this state. A court shall award reasonable attorney fees to the Attorney General if the Attorney General prevails in an action under this section.

837.385 Preemption of local laws regulating unmanned aircraft systems. 

Except as expressly authorized by state statute, the authority to regulate the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft systems is vested solely in the Legislative Assembly. Except as expressly authorized by state statute, a local government, as defined ORS 174.116, may not enact an ordinance or resolution that regulates the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft systems or otherwise engage in the regulation of the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft systems.

837.390 Applicability. 

ORS 837.300 to 837.390 and 837.995 and section 11, chapter 686, Oregon Laws 2013, do not apply to the Armed Forces of the United States as defined in ORS 352.313.

837.990 Penalties. 

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section and subject to ORS 153.022, a person commits a Class A violation if the person violates any provision of this chapter or any rule adopted, or order issued, under this chapter.

(2) The offense described in ORS 837.080, prohibited operation of an aircraft, is a Class B misdemeanor.

Undefined Section in Chapter 837.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a person may not operate an unmanned aircraft system over the boundaries of privately owned premises in a manner so as to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly harass or annoy the owner or occupant of the privately owned premises.

(2) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply to the use of an unmanned aircraft system by a law enforcement agency under ORS 837.335.

(3)

(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subsection, violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class B violation.

(b) If, at the time of the offense, the person has one prior conviction under this section, violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class A violation.

(c) If, at the time of the offense, the person has two or more prior convictions under this section, violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

(d) If the court imposes a sentence of probation for a violation under paragraph (c) of this subsection, the court may order as a condition of probation that the person may not possess an unmanned aircraft system.

164.885 Endangering aircraft. 

(1) A person commits the crime of endangering aircraft in the first degree if the person knowingly:

 (a) Throws an object at, or drops an object upon, an aircraft;

 (b) Discharges a bow and arrow, gun, airgun or firearm at or toward an aircraft;

 (c) Tampers with an aircraft or a part, system, machine or substance used to operate an aircraft in such a manner as to impair the safety, efficiency or operation of an aircraft without the consent of the owner, operator or possessor of the aircraft; or

(d) Places, sets, arms or causes to be discharged a spring gun, trap, explosive device or explosive material with the intent of damaging, destroying or discouraging the operation of an aircraft.

(2)(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection, a person commits the crime of endangering aircraft in the second degree if the person knowingly possesses a firearm or deadly weapon in a   restricted access area of a commercial service airport that has at least 2 million passenger boardings per calendar year.

(b) Paragraph (a) of this subsection does not apply to a person authorized under federal law or an airport security program to possess a firearm or deadly weapon in a restricted access area.

(3) (a) Endangering aircraft in the first degree is a Class C felony.

(b) Endangering aircraft in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.

(4) As used in this section, “restricted access area” means an area of a commercial service airport that is:

(a) Designated as restricted in the airport security program approved by the federal Transportation Security Administration; and

(b) Marked at points of entry with signs giving notice that access to the area is restricted.

 

Note: 164.885 was enacted into law by the Legislative Assembly but was not added to or made a part of ORS chapter 164 or any series therein by legislative action. See Preface to Oregon Revised Statutes for further explanation.

Section 837.995 Crimes involving unmanned aircraft systems; penalties. 

(1) A person commits a Class A felony if the person possesses or controls an unmanned aircraft system and intentionally causes, or attempts to cause, the unmanned aircraft system to:

(a) Fire a bullet or other projectile at an aircraft while the aircraft is in the air;

(b) Direct a laser at an aircraft while the aircraft is in the air; or

(c) Crash into an aircraft while the aircraft is in the air.

(2) A person who intentionally interferes with, or gains unauthorized control over, an unmanned aircraft system licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, or operated by the Armed Forces of the United States as defined in ORS 352.313, an agency of the United States or a federal, state or local law enforcement agency, commits a Class C felony.

Section 837.998 Civil penalties. 

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, in addition to any other penalty provided by law, the Director of the Oregon Department of Aviation may impose a civil penalty not to exceed $720 for each violation of any provision of this chapter or any rule adopted, or order issued, under this chapter.

(2) The director may impose a civil penalty not to exceed $2,500 for violation of ORS 837.080 or any rule adopted, or order issued, under this chapter to enforce ORS 837.080.

(3) The director shall impose civil penalties under this section in the manner provided in ORS 183.745.

Undefined Section in Chapter 837.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2) of this section, a person may not operate an unmanned aircraft system over the boundaries of privately owned premises in a manner so as to intentionally, knowingly or recklessly harass or annoy the owner or occupant of the privately owned premises.

(2) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply to the use of an unmanned aircraft system by a law enforcement agency under ORS 837.335.

(3)

(a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this subsection, violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class B violation.

(b) If, at the time of the offense, the person has one prior conviction under this section, violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class A violation.

(c) If, at the time of the offense, the person has two or more prior convictions under this section, violation of subsection (1) of this section is a Class B misdemeanor.

(d) If the court imposes a sentence of probation for a violation under paragraph (c) of this subsection, the court may order as a condition of probation that the person may not possess an unmanned aircraft system.

Section 163.700.

(1) Except as provided in ORS 163.702, a person commits the crime of invasion of personal privacy in the second degree if:

(a)

(A) For the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the person, the person is in a location to observe another person in a state of nudity without the consent of the other person; and

(B) The other person is in a place and circumstances where the person has a reasonable expectation of personal privacy; or

(b)

(A) The person knowingly makes or records a photograph, motion picture, videotape or other visual recording of another person’s intimate area without the consent of the other person; and

(B) The person being recorded has a reasonable expectation of privacy concerning the intimate area.

(2) As used in this section and ORS 163.701:

(a) “Intimate area” means nudity, or undergarments that are being worn by a person and are covered by clothing.

(b) “Makes or records a photograph, motion picture, videotape or other visual recording” includes, but is not limited to:

(A) Making or recording or employing, authorizing, permitting, compelling or inducing another person to make or record a photograph, motion picture, videotape or other visual recording.

(B) Making or recording a photograph, motion picture, videotape or other visual recording through the use of an unmanned aircraft system as defined in ORS 837.300, even if the unmanned aircraft system is operated for commercial purposes in compliance with authorization granted by the Federal Aviation Administration.

(c) “Nudity” means any part of the uncovered or less than opaquely covered:

(A) Genitals;

(B) Pubic area; or

(C) Female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola.

(d) “Places and circumstances where the person has a reasonable expectation of personal privacy” includes, but is not limited to, a bathroom, dressing room, locker room that includes an enclosed area for dressing or showering, tanning booth and any area where a person undresses in an enclosed space that is not open to public view.

(e) “Public view” means that an area can be readily seen and that a person within the area can be distinguished by normal unaided vision when viewed from a public place as defined in ORS 161.015.

(f) “Reasonable expectation of privacy concerning the intimate area” means that the person intended to protect the intimate area from being seen and has not exposed the intimate area to public view.

(3) Invasion of personal privacy in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor.

 

Section Undefined (Passed as law but waiting on location to where it is to be added between 837.300-390)

(1) As used in this section, “critical infrastructure facility” means any of the following facilities, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders, or if marked with a sign conspicuously posted on the property that indicates that entry is forbidden:

(a) A petroleum or alumina refinery;

(b) An electrical power generating facility, substation, switching station or electrical control center;

(c) A chemical, polymer or rubber manufacturing facility;

(d) A water intake structure, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant or pump station;

(e) A natural gas compressor station;

(f) A liquid natural gas terminal or storage facility;

(g) A telecommunications central switching office;

(h) A port, railroad switching yard, trucking terminal or other freight transportation facility;

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

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

(k) A steelmaking facility that uses an electric arc furnace to make steel;

(L) A dam that is classified as a high hazard by the Water Resources Department;

(m) 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; or

(n) A correctional facility or law enforcement facility.

(2) Except as provided in subsection (3) of this section, a person commits a Class A violation if the person intentionally or knowingly:

(a) Operates an unmanned aircraft system over a critical infrastructure facility at an altitude not higher than 400 feet above ground level; or

(b) Allows an unmanned aircraft system to make contact with a critical infrastructure facility, including any person or object on the premises of or within the facility.

(3) This section does not apply to:

(a) The federal government.

(b) A public body.

(c) A law enforcement agency.

(d) A person under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of the federal government, a public body or a law enforcement agency.

(e) An owner or operator of the critical infrastructure facility.

(f) A person who has the prior written consent of the owner or operator of the critical infrastructure facility.

(g) The owner or occupant of the property on which the critical infrastructure facility is located.

(h) A person who has the prior written consent of the owner or occupant of the property on which the critical infrastructure facility is located.

(i) A person operating an unmanned aircraft system for commercial purposes in compliance with authorization granted by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Section 498.128

(1) The State Fish and Wildlife Commission shall adopt rules prohibiting the use of drones for the following purposes related to the pursuit of wildlife:

(a) Angling;

(b) Hunting;

(c) Trapping;

(d) Aiding angling, hunting or trapping through the use of drones to harass, track, locate or scout wildlife; and

(e) Interfering in the acts of a person who is lawfully angling, hunting or trapping.

(2) Rules adopted to carry out the prohibitions provided for in this section may include exemptions for:

(a) Subject to ORS 837.360 [and 837.365], the State Department of Fish and Wildlife and the department’s agents and contractors for the use of drones in carrying out the duties of the department; or

(b) The use of drones in a manner otherwise prohibited under this section if the purpose of the use is to benefit wildlife management or habitat or for the protection of property.

(3) Nothing in this section is meant to limit the use of drones by a person who is lawfully engaging in activities authorized under the commercial fishing laws.

(4) As used in this section, “drone” means:

(a) An unmanned flying machine;

(b) An unmanned water-based vehicle; or

(c) Any other vehicle that is able to operate in the air, in or under the water or on land, either remotely or autonomously, and without a human occupant.

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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.

Colorado Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This article is for information purposes only!  This article is ONLY for state laws that are DRONE specific. Local laws and “aircraft” related laws could potentially apply and were outside of the focus of this article. It might NOT be up to date. You should seek out a competent attorney licensed in the state you are interested in before operating.

Researching? I created a page on Drone Laws(federal, state, & international) and another on only US drone laws by state.

 Current as of June 19, 2017

24-33.5-1228. Colorado firefighting air corps – creation – powers – aircraft acquisitions required – center of excellence – unmanned aircraft systems study and pilot program – Colorado firefighting air corps fund – creation – report – rules.

……..

(2.5)

(c)

(I) IN ADDITION TO PERFORMING THE FUNCTIONS DESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION (2.5)(b) OF THIS SECTION, UPON RECEIVING SUFFICIENT MONEY IN THE FORM OF GIFTS, GRANTS, AND DONATIONS, THE CENTER OF EXCELLENCE SHALL CONDUCT A STUDY CONCERNING THE INTEGRATION OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS WITHIN STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS THAT RELATE TO CERTAIN PUBLIC-SAFETY FUNCTIONS. AT A MINIMUM, THE STUDY MUST:

(A) IDENTIFY THE MOST FEASIBLE AND READILY AVAILABLE WAYS TO INTEGRATE UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS TECHNOLOGY WITHIN LOCAL AND STATE GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONS RELATING TO FIREFIGHTING, SEARCH AND RESCUE, ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTION, CRIME SCENE DOCUMENTATION, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, AND EMERGENCIES INVOLVING SIGNIFICANT PROPERTY LOSS OR POTENTIAL FOR INJURY OR DEATH; AND

(B) FOR EACH APPLICATION OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS THAT THE CENTER OF EXCELLENCE IDENTIFIES PURSUANT TO SUBSECTION (2.5)(c)(I)(A) OF THIS SECTION, INCLUDE CONSIDERATION OF PRIVACY CONCERNS, COSTS, AND TIMELINESS OF DEPLOYMENT.

(II) NOT LATER THAN ONE MONTH AFTER COMPLETING THE STUDY DESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION (2.5)(c)(1) OF THIS SECTION, THE CENTER OF EXCELLENCE SHALL SUBMIT A REPORT DESCRIBING THE RESULTS OF ITS STUDY TO THE WILDFIRE MATTERS REVIEW COMMITEE CREATED IN SECTION 2-3-1602 AND THE HOUSE AGRICULTURE, LIVESTOCK, AND NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE AND THE SENATE AGRICULTURE, NATURAL RESOURCES, AND ENERGY COMMITTEE, OR ANY SUCCESSOR COMMITTEES. THE REPORT MUST ADDRESS EACH ITEM DESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION (2.5)(c)(I) OF THIS SECTION, AS WELL AS THE RESULTS OF THE UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM PILOT PROGRAM DESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION (2.5)(d) OF THIS SECTION.

(d)

(I) As PART OF THE STUDY DESCRIBED IN SUBSECTION (2.5)(c)(I) OF THIS SECTION, UPON RECEIVING SUFFICIENT MONEY IN THE FORM OF GIFTS, GRANTS, AND DONATIONS, ON AND AFTER THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THIS SECTION, THE CENTER OF EXCELLENCE SHALL OPERATE AN UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM PILOT PROGRAM, REFERRED TO WITHIN THIS SECTION AS THE “PILOT PROGRAM”, TO INTEGRATE UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS WITHIN STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS THAT RELATE TO CERTAIN PUBLIC-SAFETY FUNCTIONS.

(II) As PART OF THE PILOT PROGRAM, THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY SHALL DEPLOY AT LEAST ONE TEAM OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM OPERATORS TO A REGION WITHIN THE STATE THAT HAS BEEN DESIGNATED BY THE DIVISION AS A FIRE HAZARD. THE PILOT PROGRAM MUST TRAIN THE UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM OPERATORS TO OPERATE UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS IN VARIOUS CONTEXTS RELATING TO FIREFIGHTING, SEARCH AND RESCUE, ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTION, CRIME SCENE DOCUMENTATION, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT, AND EMERGENCIES INVOLVING SIGNIFICANT PROPERTY LOSS OR POTENTIAL FOR INJURY OR DEATH. UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM OPERATORS MAY BE COMPENSATED BY THE CENTER DURING THEIR TRAINING.

(III) IN OPERATING THE PILOT PROGRAM, THE CENTER OF EXCELLENCE SHALL NOT INTERFERE WITH ANY ACTIVE WILDFIRE SUPPRESSION EFFORT UNLESS THE CENTER IS GRANTED PERMISSION TO ASSIST IN SUCH EFFORT BY A SUPERVISING AGENCY WITH THE AUTHORITY TO GRANT SUCH PERMISSION

……….

(3)

(a) The division shall administer the Colorado firefighting air corps fund, which fund is hereby created in the state treasury. The division MAY seek and accept gifts, grants, reimbursements, investments, bond revenues, sales proceeds, commissions for services, sponsorships, advertising fees, licensing fees, profits, or donations from private or public sources for the purposes of this section. The fund consists of all MONEY that may be appropriated to the fund by the general assembly, and all private and public funds received through gifts, grants, reimbursements, investments, bond revenues, sales proceeds, commissions for services, sponsorships, advertising fees, licensing fees, profits, or donations that are transmitted to the state treasurer and credited to the fund. All interest earned from the investment of MONEY in the fund IS credited to the fund. The MONEY in the fund Is continuously appropriated for the purposes indicated in SUBSECTION (3)(c) OF THIS SECTION. Any MONEY not expended at the end of the fiscal year REMAINS in the fund.

(b) The general assembly finds that the implementation of this section does not rely entirely on the receipt of adequate funding through gifts, grants, or donations. Therefore, the division is not subject to the notice requirements specified in section 24-75-1303 (3).

(c) The division shall use the MONEY in the Colorado firefighting air corps fund for the PURPOSES OF SUBSECTION (2.5) OF THIS SECTION AND FOR PAYING THE direct and indirect costs of maintaining the Colorado firefighting air corps, including expenses associated with acquisition, retrofitting, labor, equipment, supply, transportation, air, mobilization, repair, maintenance, and demobilization.

Code of Colorado Regulations  406-0 #004 – AIDS IN TAKING WILDLIFE 

C. It shall be unlawful to use a drone to look for, scout, or detect wildlife as an aid in the hunting or taking of wildlife.

1. For the purposes of this regulation, drone shall be defined as including, without limitation, any contrivance invented, used or designed for navigation of, or flight in the air that is unmanned or guided remotely. A drone may also be referred to as “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” (UAV) or “Unmanned Aerial Vehicle System” (UAVS).

 

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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.

Texas Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This article is for information purposes only!  This article is ONLY for state laws that are DRONE specific. Local laws and “aircraft” related laws could potentially apply and were outside of the focus of this article. It might NOT be up to date. You should seek out a competent attorney licensed in the state you are interested in before operating.

Researching? I created a page on Drone Laws(federal, state, & international) and another on only US drone laws by state.

 Current as of June 19, 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 or any structure used as part of a system to provide wired or wireless telecommunications services;

(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

(xiii) a concentrated animal feeding operation, as defined by Section 26.048, Water Code; or

(B) if enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier obviously designed to exclude intruders:

(i) any portion of an aboveground oil, gas, or chemical pipeline;
(ii) an oil or gas drilling site;
(iii) a group of tanks used to store crude oil, such as a tank battery;
(iv) an oil, gas, or chemical production facility;
(v) an oil or gas wellhead; or
(vi) any oil and gas facility that has an active flare

(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 operation is conducted in compliance with:

(A) each applicable Federal Aviation Administration rule, restriction, or exemption; and
(B) all required Federal Aviation Administration authorizations

(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.

Sec. 423.009. REGULATION OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT BY POLITICAL SUBDIVISION.

(a) In this section:

(1) “Political subdivision” includes a county, a joint board created under Section 22.074, Transportation Code, and a municipality.
(2) “Special event” means a festival, celebration, or other gathering that:

(A) involves:

(i) the reservation and temporary use of all or a portion of a public park, road, or other property of a political subdivision; and
(ii) entertainment, the sale of merchandise, food, or beverages, or mass participation in a sports event; and

(B) requires a significant use or coordination of a political subdivision’s services.

(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), a political subdivision may not adopt or enforce any ordinance, order, or other similar measure regarding the operation of an unmanned aircraft.
(c) A political subdivision may adopt and enforce an ordinance, order, or other similar measure regarding:

(1) the use of an unmanned aircraft during a special event;
(2) the political subdivision’s use of an unmanned aircraft; or
(3) the use of an unmanned aircraft near a facility or infrastructure owned by the political subdivision, if the political subdivision:

(A) applies for and receives authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to adopt the regulation; and
(B) after providing reasonable notice, holds a public hearing on the political subdivision’s intent to apply for the authorization.

(d) An ordinance, order, or other similar measure that violates Subsection (b) is void and unenforceable.

 

 

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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.

Michigan Drone Laws (2017)

NOTICE: This article is for information purposes only!  This article is ONLY for state laws that are DRONE specific. Local laws and “aircraft” related laws could potentially apply and were outside of the focus of this article. It might NOT be up to date. You should seek out a competent attorney licensed in the state you are interested in before operating.

Researching? I created a page on Drone Laws(federal, state, & international) and another on only US drone laws by state.

 Current as of February 21, 2017

 

Michigan Compiled Laws Section 259.301 Short title.

This act shall be known and may be cited as the “unmanned aircraft systems act”.

Michigan Compiled Laws Section 259.303 Definitions.

As used in this act:

(a) “Person” means an individual, partnership, corporation, association, governmental entity, or other legal entity.

(b) “Political subdivision” means a county, city, village, township, or other political subdivision, public corporation, authority, or district in this state.

(c) “Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned aircraft and all of the associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications, navigation equipment, and other equipment necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft.

(d) “Unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft flown by a remote pilot via a ground control system, or autonomously through use of an on-board computer, communication links, and any additional equipment that is necessary for the unmanned aircraft to operate safely.

Michigan Compiled Laws Section 259.305 Political subdivision; limitations; powers; federal preemption; conflict with other sections of law.

 (1) Except as expressly authorized by statute, a political subdivision shall not enact or enforce an ordinance or resolution that regulates the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft or otherwise engage in the regulation of the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft.

(2) This act does not prohibit a political subdivision from promulgating rules, regulations, and ordinances for the use of unmanned aircraft systems by the political subdivision within the boundaries of the political subdivision.

(3) This act does not affect federal preemption of state law.

(4) If this act conflicts with section 40111c or 40112 of the natural resources and environmental protection act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.40111c and 324.40112, those sections control.

Michigan Compiled Laws Section 259.311 Operation of unmanned aircraft system; person authorized by Federal Aviation Administration.

A person that is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate unmanned aircraft systems for commercial purposes may operate an unmanned aircraft system in this state if the unmanned aircraft system is operated in a manner consistent with federal law.

Michigan Compiled Laws Section  259.313 Operation of unmanned aircraft system; manner.

A person may operate an unmanned aircraft system in this state for recreational purposes if the unmanned aircraft system is operated in a manner consistent with federal law for the operation of a model aircraft.

Michigan Compiled Laws Section 259.321 Operation of unmanned aircraft system; interference with official duties prohibited.

An individual shall not knowingly and intentionally operate an unmanned aircraft system in a manner that interferes with the official duties of any of the following:

(a) A police officer.

(b) A firefighter.

(c) A paramedic.

(d) Search and rescue personnel.

Michigan Compiled Laws Section 259.322 Operation of unmanned aircraft system; harassment, violation of order, or invasion of privacy prohibited; definition; individual registered as sex offender.

(1) A person shall not knowingly and intentionally operate an unmanned aircraft system to subject an individual to harassment. As used in this subsection, “harassment” means that term as defined in section 411h or 411i of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.411h and 750.411i.

(2) A person shall not knowingly and intentionally operate an unmanned aircraft system within a distance that, if the person were to do so personally rather than through remote operation of an unmanned aircraft, would be a violation of a restraining order or other judicial order.

(3) A person shall not knowingly and intentionally operate an unmanned aircraft system to violate section 539j of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.539j, or to otherwise capture photographs, video, or audio recordings of an individual in a manner that would invade the individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy.

(4) An individual who is required to register as a sex offender under the sex offenders registration act, 1994 PA 295, MCL 28.721 to 28.736, shall not operate an unmanned aircraft system to knowingly and intentionally follow, contact, or capture images of another individual, if the individual’s sentence in a criminal case would prohibit the individual from following, contacting, or capturing the image of the other individual.

Michigan Compiled Laws Section 259.323 Violation as misdemeanor; penalty; other violation of law.

(1) An individual who violates section 21 or 22 is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.

(2) This section does not affect the ability to investigate or to arrest, prosecute, or convict an individual for any other violation of a law of this state.

Michigan Compiled Laws Section 259.331 Unmanned aircraft systems task force.

 (1) The unmanned aircraft systems task force is created to develop statewide policy recommendations on the operation, use, and regulation of unmanned aircraft systems in this state.

(2) Within 90 days after the effective date of this act, the governor shall appoint initial members of the unmanned aircraft systems task force. The individuals appointed to the unmanned aircraft systems task force by the governor, initially and subsequently, must comprise 1 member from each of the following agencies or interest groups:

(a) A member from the state transportation department nominated by the director of the state transportation department.

(b) A member from the division of the state transportation department that performs bridge inspections and road work, nominated by the director of the state transportation department.

(c) A member from the department of state police, nominated by the director of the department of state police.

(d) A member from the department of natural resources, nominated by the director of the department of natural resources.

(e) A member from the department of agriculture and rural development, nominated by the director of the department of agriculture and rural development.

(f) A member from the department of licensing and regulatory affairs nominated by the director of the department of licensing and regulatory affairs.

(g) A member from the department of corrections, nominated by the director of the department of corrections.

(h) An unmanned aircraft systems technical commercial representative.

(i) An unmanned aircraft systems manufacturing industry representative.

(j) A member who is licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate unmanned aircraft that weigh less than 55 pounds.

(k) A member who represents airports in this state, nominated by the director of the state transportation department.

(l) A member from the Michigan Municipal League, nominated by the executive director of the Michigan Municipal League.

(m) A law enforcement official from a municipality, nominated by a statewide police chiefs association.

(n) A member who represents county sheriffs, nominated by the president of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association.

(o) A member of a statewide agricultural association, nominated by the president of the association.

(p) A member of a statewide retail association, nominated by the president of the association.

(q) A member of a statewide manufacturing trade association, nominated by the president or chief executive officer of the association.

(r) A member of a statewide property and casualty insurance association, nominated by the president or chief executive officer of the association.

(s) A member of a statewide association that represents real estate brokers licensed in this state, nominated by the president of the association.

(t) A member of a statewide surveying association, nominated by the president of the association.

(u) A member of a statewide freight railroad association, nominated by the president of the association.

(v) A member of a statewide broadcasters association, nominated by the president of the association.

(w) A member who represents persons that operate key facilities, as that term is defined in section 552c of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.552c.

(x) A member who is knowledgeable about the operation of public utilities who represents public utilities in the Upper Peninsula, nominated by the chairman of the public service commission.

(y) A member who is knowledgeable about the operation of public utilities who represents public utilities in the Lower Peninsula, nominated by the chairman of the public service commission.

(z) A member who represents the Mackinac Bridge Authority, nominated by the authority.

(aa) A member who represents the city of Mackinac Island.

(3) Initial nominations to the unmanned aircraft systems task force must be submitted to the governor within 60 days after the effective date of this act. The governor shall make the initial appointments within 30 days after the close of nominations.

(4) Members of the unmanned aircraft systems task force shall serve for terms of 4 years or until a successor is appointed, whichever is later, except that of the initial members appointed, 6 members, as designated by the governor, shall serve for 1 year, 6 members, as designated by the governor, shall serve for 2 years, and 7 members, as designated by the governor, shall serve for 3 years.

(5) If a vacancy occurs on the unmanned aircraft systems task force, the governor shall make an appointment for the unexpired term in the same manner as the original appointment.

(6) The governor may remove a member of the unmanned aircraft systems task force for incompetence, dereliction of duty, malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance in office, or any other good cause.

(7) The member from the state transportation department shall chair the unmanned aircraft systems task force and serve as a liaison to the governor and the standing committees in the house and senate that mainly deal with transportation issues. The unmanned aircraft systems task force shall meet as necessary to complete the duties of the task force. Meetings of the unmanned aircraft systems task force must be held in the central part of this state.

(8) A majority of the members of the unmanned aircraft systems task force constitute a quorum for the transaction of business at a meeting of the task force. A majority of the members present and serving are required for official action of the task force.

(9) The unmanned aircraft systems task force shall conduct its business at public meetings of the task force held in compliance with the open meetings act, 1976 PA 267, MCL 15.261 to 15.275.

(10) A writing prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by the unmanned aircraft systems task force in the performance of an official function is subject to the freedom of information act, 1976 PA 442, MCL 15.231 to 15.246.

(11) The members of the unmanned aircraft systems task force must receive no compensation for serving as members of the task force.

(12) The unmanned aircraft systems task force shall consider commercial and private uses of unmanned aircraft systems, landowner and privacy rights, as well as general rules and regulations for safe operation of unmanned aircraft systems, and prepare comprehensive recommendations for the safe and lawful operation of unmanned aircraft systems in this state. The recommendations must include, but not be limited to, recommendations regarding the protection of public and private property interests and the use of unmanned aircraft systems over public property.

(13) The state transportation department shall provide administrative support to the unmanned aircraft systems task force.

(14) The unmanned aircraft systems task force shall submit a report with recommendations to the governor and the standing committees in the house and senate that mainly deal with transportation issues within 3 months after the first meeting of the task force.

(15) After submitting the report required under subsection (14), the unmanned aircraft systems task force shall meet not less than once every 18 months to consider any new developments or problems that may require further consideration and recommendations by the task force.

Michigan Compiled Laws Section  324.40111c Use of tranquilizer propelled from bow or firearm; use of unmanned vehicle or device; prohibitions.

(1) A person other than the department shall not take game using a tranquilizer propelled from a bow or firearm.

(2) An individual shall not take game or fish using an unmanned vehicle or unmanned device that uses aerodynamic forces to achieve flight or using an unmanned vehicle or unmanned device that operates on the surface of water or underwater.

 

Michigan Compiled Laws Section 324.40112 Obstructing or interfering in lawful taking of animals or fish; prohibited conduct; petition; injunction; violation as misdemeanor; penalties; section inapplicable to peace officer.

(1) An individual shall not obstruct or interfere in the lawful taking of animals or fish by another individual.

(2) An individual violates this section when the individual intentionally or knowingly does any of the following:

(a) Drives or disturbs animals or fish for the purpose of disrupting a lawful taking.

(b) Blocks, impedes, or harasses another individual who is engaged in the process of lawfully taking an animal or fish.

(c) Uses a natural or artificial visual, aural, olfactory, gustatory, or physical stimulus or an unmanned vehicle or unmanned device that uses aerodynamic forces to achieve flight or that operates on the surface of the water or underwater, to affect animal or fish behavior in order to hinder or prevent the lawful taking of an animal or a fish.

(d) Erects barriers to deny ingress or egress to areas where the lawful taking of animals or fish may occur. This subdivision does not apply to an individual who erects barriers to prevent trespassing on his or her property.

(e) Interjects himself or herself into the line of fire of an individual lawfully taking wildlife.

(f) Affects the condition or placement of personal or public property intended for use in the lawful taking of an animal or a fish in order to impair the usefulness of the property or prevent the use of the property.

(g) Enters or remains upon private lands without the permission of the owner or the owner’s agent, for the purpose of violating this section.

(h) Engages in any other act or behavior for the purpose of violating this section.

(3) Upon petition of an aggrieved person or an individual who reasonably may be aggrieved by a violation of this section, a court of competent jurisdiction, upon a showing that an individual was engaged in and threatens to continue to engage in illegal conduct under this section, may enjoin that conduct.

(4) An individual who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not less than $500.00 or more than $1,000.00, or both, and the costs of prosecution. An individual who violates this section a second or subsequent time is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not less than $1,000.00 or more than $2,500.00, or both, and the costs of prosecution. In addition to the penalties provided for in this subsection, any permit or license issued by the department authorizing the individual to take animals or fish shall be revoked. A prosecution under this section does not preclude prosecution or other action under any other criminal or civil statute.

(5) This section does not apply to a peace officer while the peace officer performs his or her lawful duties.

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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.

Ultimate Guide to Drone Laws from a Lawyer & Pilot (2018)

Interested in drone laws? It can be a pain to try and figure out what is applicable. That is why I created this page! :)

Where NOT to Look for Help With Drone Laws

Here is a tip, stay away from Facebook or anyone else who is a newbie to aviation. They tend to waste your time and provide bad guidance. Seriously, you should be very careful where you get information from – not everyone is qualified to give you information. You don’t install random pieces of software you find on the internet onto your computer. Why would you do that for the laws and legal advice?

For example, I was reading a drone book by someone very popular on the internet which was just completely – flat out – totally- 100% wrong. The section on drone laws was just horrible. I think this person just hired a copywriter to write the book which resulted in utter garbage. If you were to rely on that bad advice, you could get in trouble and be on the receiving end of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution. Worse yet, on their Youtube channel, they continued to give out legal advice that was incomplete. Either they were keeping their readers in the dark about one critically important piece of advice or they were sincerely, and incorrectly, giving out advice which could result in legal consequences.

You should vet everyone before you give them your time. Here, vet me by looking at my bio.

Where to Look for Help With Drone Laws

You should look at resources in this order:

  1. The actual drone laws (Part 107, Part 101, Part 47, Part 48, etc.)
  2. The FAA’s website.
  3. My website! You can even use the search feature.
  4. Other competent drone lawyers or consultants (read the two articles below on how to find out as there are some really bad people out there).
  5. Your local Flight Standards District Office Aviation Safety Inspector, any FAA email on their website, etc.

I. United States Drone Laws

There are different levels of governmental authority in the U.S. We have a federated system where we are governed on certain things by the U.S. Federal Government and the state governments with those areas not enumerated to the U.S. government.

Additionally, the states have passed laws allowing counties, cities, and towns to regulate individuals.  At any given moment, a person can 3 or 4 levels of laws applying to them. For example, your drone operations could have the federal aviation laws, state drone laws, county drone laws, city or town laws, and maybe even HOA rules all applying to them.

Whether or not the states, counties, and cities can regulation drones is another big issue way outside of the scope of this article. As time goes on, things will shake out as to the scope of the drones laws the states, counties, cities, and towns can create. This will be determined by federal legislation or by federal case law determining what drone laws are preempted and which drone laws are not.

A. Federal Drone Public Law

Public Law is law that has been passed by Congress and signed by the President. Sometimes people use the term “legislation” to describe the Public Law. Obamacare, HIPPA, etc. are all Public Laws. I created a directory of federal drone legislation that has been approved or proposed.  Most of the proposed drone legislation out there ends up never becoming law.

B. Federal Drone Regulations 

Regulations are created through the rulemaking process. There are many regulations that apply to drones and I have a federal drone regulations directory page to help people. Below is covering the agencies that enforce the laws but does not go in-depth on the regulations which is what the drone regulations directory page is designed to do.

1. Federal Aviation Regulations (Enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration)

We immediately think of the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) when it comes to drone laws. The FAA enforces the Federal Aviation Regulations (“FARs”) which apply to all sorts of things such as student training, airports, maintenance, flying, aircraft certification, rocket launches, etc.

The two parts of the FARs that apply to drone operators are Part 107 (for non-recreational operations) and Part 101 (for recreational operations). But that is NOT all!

All non-recreational drones are required to be registered under Part 47 or Part 48.

I have created many articles on the federal aviation regulations. I have listed below the most popular ones.

drone-laws-FAA-TSA-DOT-FCC-ITAR-EAR2. Other Federal Agencies and Their “Drone Laws”

The FAA is not the only agency that regulates drones. There are also others! Keep in mind this list is not exhaustive.

NTSB. If you crash your drone, you are required to report to the National Transportation Safety Board! Additionally, you might need to file an aviation safety reporting system form which is administered by NASA! See my article on What are you required to do after a drone crash?

TSA. The Transportation Safety Administration administers the alien flight student program (governed by the alien flight student regulations). All FAA certificated flight instructors know this and have to be careful regarding providing training as well as doing security awareness training. As I read it, I think the TSA could assert jurisdiction over flight instructors training alien flight students.

DOT. The Department of Transportation has regulations regarding the transportation of hazardous material (i.e. drone medical delivery).

FCC. The Federal Communications Commission regulations radio transmitters, the frequencies they transmit on, and the power of the transmitter. Many people don’t even pay attention to that sticker that is on the back of your controller. Take a chance to read it over some time.

DOJ. The Department of Justice enforces the Federal Aviation Statutes in Title 49 of the United States Code.  The DOJ attorneys have been involved at least twice with drone operators: (1) the Skypan case which was originally started in the federal district court in Chicago and (2) in the federal district court in Connecticut with the Haughwout case (the kid who attached a gun and later a flamethrower to a drone).

DOC. You also have the Department of Commerce with the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”) and the State Department with the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”). Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone published an article detailing multiple prosecutions under ITAR.

NOAA. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sometimes gets involved because they have jurisdiction over national sanctuaries.  NOAA created frequently asked questions 
regarding NOAA’s regulated overflight zones of West Coast National Marine Sanctuaries.

Are model aircraft and Unmanned Aircraft System (drone) operations subject to NOAA regulated overflight zones?

A. Yes. Model aircraft and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (drones) propelled by motors qualify as motorized aircraft under regulations of the sanctuaries, and therefore must adhere to sanctuary regulated overflight zones. As with traditional aircraft, UAS could operate above the sanctuaries’ minimum altitude limits, provided Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations allow them to fly at such altitudes. Current FAA rules impose altitude limitations on model aircraft and other Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

NPS. National Park Service has put out statements in the past prohibiting the operation of drones in national parks. Things have changed. It is hit or miss where you can fly at the different parks. Some locations have designated areas where you can fly but you have to check. Type in the name of the national park plus  “compendium” in Google and you should find some helpful results. Additionally, you should call ahead to see if anything has changed.

DOI. The Department of the Interior has regulations and you could get in trouble with some of them. 43 CFR § 9212.1 “Unless permitted in writing by the authorized officer, it is prohibited on the public lands to: . . . (f) Resist or interfere with the efforts of firefighter(s) to extinguish a fire; (g) Enter an area which is closed by a fire prevention order[.]”

 

B. State Drone Laws

All 50! I created a state drone law directory of all 50 states.  I also included some additional resources that would be helpful from the American Legislative Exchange Counsel (ALEC), National Conference of State Legislatures, and the National League of Cities. There is also a link to a model state drone legislation from ALEC.

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Also, just like the federal agencies, state agencies have created regulations that can apply to drones as well. This is another reason you should contact an attorney licensed in that state for help.

II. International Drone Laws

There is no good reliable database of drone laws. I might create one as time goes on.

Below are the resources I have found on the internet that can assist you in finding the laws in a particular country.  I do not know how updated they are or accurate.  Use at your own risk.


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.

South Dakota Drone Laws (2018)

NOTICE: This article is for information purposes only!  This article is ONLY for state laws that are DRONE specific. Local laws and “aircraft” related laws could potentially apply and were outside of the focus of this article. It might NOT be up to date. You should seek out a competent attorney licensed in the state you are interested in before operating.

Researching? I created a page on Drone Laws(federal, state, & international) and another on only US drone laws by state.

 Current as of December 22, 2017

 22-21-1.   Trespassing to eavesdrop–Installation or use of unauthorized eavesdropping device–Drones. Any person who, except as authorized by law:
             (1)      Trespasses on property with intent to subject anyone to eavesdropping or other surveillance in a private place;
             (2)      Installs in any private place, without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy there, any device for observing, photographing, recording, amplifying, or broadcasting sounds or events in such place, or uses any such unauthorized installation;
             (3)      Intentionally uses a drone to photograph, record, or otherwise observe another person in a private place where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy; or
             (4)      Lands a drone on the lands or waters of another resident provided the resident owns the land beneath the water body in its entirety without the owner’s consent, except in the case of forced landing and the owner or lessee of the drone will be liable for any damage resulting from a forced landing;
is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Subdivisions (2) and (3) do not apply to law enforcement officers, or to those acting under the direction of a law enforcement officer, while engaged in the performance of the officer’s lawful duties. These restrictions do not apply to a drone operator operating a drone for commercial or agricultural purposes pursuant to or in compliance with federal aviation administration regulations, authorizations, and exemptions nor do they apply to an emergency management worker operating a drone within the scope of the worker’s duties.

50-11-9.1. Certain unmanned aircraft exempt from registration. The provisions of §§ 50-11-8 and 50-11-9 do not apply to any unmanned aircraft system that weighs less than fifty-five pounds.

50-15-1.   Drone defined. For purposes of this chapter, the term, drone, means a powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, and can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely. The vehicle may be expendable or recoverable.

50-15-2.   Compliance with federal requirements–Exemption from chapter. Any operation of a drone in the state shall comply with all applicable federal aviation administration requirements. Any drone operating under the authority of the Armed Forces of the United States, including the National Guard, is exempt from this chapter.

50-15-3.   Authorization required to operate drone over certain facilities–Violation as misdemeanor. No person may operate a drone over the grounds of a prison, correctional facility, jail, juvenile detention facility, or any military facility unless expressly authorized by the administrator thereof. A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

50-15-4. Prohibited delivery of contraband or controlled substance–Felony. Any person who uses a drone to deliver contraband or controlled substances to a state prison or other correctional facility is guilty of a Class 6 felony in addition to the penalty for the principal offense.

 

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