Delaware 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.

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 Current as of February 21, 2017

Title 11 of Delaware Code § 1334 Unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft system; unclassified misdemeanor; class B misdemeanor; class A misdemeanor.

(a) Definitions. — The following terms shall have the following meanings as used in this section.

(1) “Critical infrastructure” means petroleum refineries, petroleum storage facilities, chemical storage facilities, chemical manufacturing facilities, fuel storage facilities, electric substations, power plants, electric generation facilities, military facilities, commercial port and harbor facilities, rail yard facilities, drinking water treatment or storage facilities, correctional facilities, government buildings, and public safety buildings or facilities.

(2) “First responder” means federal, state, and local law-enforcement officers, fire, and emergency medical services personnel, hazardous materials response team members, 9-1-1 dispatchers, or any individual who is responsible for the protection and preservation of life and is directed to respond to an incident that could result in death or serious injury.

(3) “Unmanned aircraft system” means a powered, aerial vehicle that:

a. Does not carry a human operator;

b. Uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift;

c. Can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely; and

d. Can be expendable or recoverable.

(b) Prohibited acts. — Except as provided in this section, no person shall knowingly operate, direct, or program an unmanned aircraft system to fly:

(1) Over any sporting event, concert, automobile race, festival, or other event at which more than 1500 people are in attendance; or

(2) Over any critical infrastructure; or

(3) Over any incident where first responders are actively engaged in response or air, water, vehicular, ground or specialized transport.

(c) Exemptions. — The prohibitions set forth in subsection (b) of this section shall not apply to:

(1) An unmanned aircraft system used for law-enforcement purposes; or

(2) An unmanned aircraft system flying over property where written permission has been granted by the property owner or occupier; or

(3) An unmanned aircraft system operated by an institution of higher education for educational purposes in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations; or

(4) An unmanned aircraft system that is being used for a commercial or other purpose if the operator is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration.

(d) Penalties. — Unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft system is an unclassified misdemeanor for a first offense and a class B misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense, except that in any case where physical injury to a person or damage to property occurs as a result of a violation of this section unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft system is a class A misdemeanor.

(e) Preemption. — Only the State may enact a law or take any other action to prohibit, restrict, or regulate the testing or operation of an unmanned aircraft systems in the State. This section preempts the authority of a county or municipality to prohibit, restrict, or regulate the testing or operating of unmanned aircraft systems and supersedes any existing law or ordinance of a county or municipality that prohibits, restricts, or regulates the testing or operating of unmanned aircraft systems.

Title 21 of the Delaware Code

Section 4504 Regulations; fees; permits for excessive size and weights.

(a) The Secretary of Transportation may adopt such regulations, issue permits and may impose such fees as the Secretary may deem reasonable to implement the requirements of this chapter. The fee for permits issued pursuant to paragraph (c)(1) of this section for vehicles operating on any interstate highway within this State shall be $1.00 per single trip permit.

(b)

(1) The Secretary of Transportation is hereby authorized to adopt rules and regulations, to establish and set fees and to adopt procedures for the issuance of permits for the movement of vehicles and/or loads of a size and weight exceeding the maximum specified in this chapter.

(2) Local authorities may adopt regulations under which permits may be granted for the movement of vehicles and/or loads of a size and weight exceeding the maximum specified in this chapter over any highway for which the local authority has the sole maintenance responsibility.

(3) Every permit granted shall be in writing and shall contain a description of the vehicle and load, a statement of the fee levied and the name of the authorized officer of the granting authority. It may designate the route and certain restrictions, rules, conditions and regulations as deemed necessary.

(4) Permits may be obtained only for vehicles or trailers complying with this title.

(5) A permit obtained pursuant to this section shall relieve no person of the obligation to comply with all laws, rules and regulations otherwise applicable.

(c)

(1) Single trip permits shall be issued for single trips from the designated starting point to the designated terminal point. Intermediate stopping points and round trips are not permitted.

(2) Multi-trip permits shall be issued for the period from the first day of the month to the first day of the following month. Each permit shall be valid as authorized herein; it shall not be transferable.

a. Utility companies may be issued a permit for piling and pole trailers. Each permit may be valid for up to 4 trailers at the time of issue.

b. Utility companies and governmental agencies may be issued a permit for a manned and/or unmanned aerial type single motor vehicle up to 50 feet long. Each permit shall be valid for an individual vehicle only.

c. Pole and piling haulers may be issued a permit for piling and pole movements. Each permit shall be valid for an individual tractor only.

d. A specific route permit may be issued to owners or renters of double-bottom vehicles weighing not more than 80,000 lbs. with a width of not more than 102 inches. Each permit shall be for a single route between 2 specific points. Such permit shall not be vehicle specific; it is route specific.

e. Permits shall not be issued under paragraph (c)(2)d. of this section for any route which has a posted speed limit over 30 m.p.h. and has travel lanes less than 11 feet wide as measured from face of curb or edge of travelway.

f. Multi-trip permits shall not be issued for any purpose not specifically authorized in paragraph (c)(2)a., b., c. or d. of this section.

g., h. [Deleted.]

(d) Notwithstanding any provision or regulation to the contrary, all operators of self-propelled cranes, as defined in § 101 of this title, shall be allowed to apply for and receive a 1-year blanket permit allowing unlimited moves of said self-propelled crane. These blanket permits can be renewed each year. For purposes of this subsection, a “blanket permit” is an unlimited movement permit for each self-propelled crane owned by an applicant. Said permit shall be issued per the rules and regulations adopted by the Department of Transportation.

(e)

(1) Every permit shall be carried in the vehicle to which it refers during the movement it authorizes and it shall be open to inspection by any police officer.

(2) Copies of multi-trip permits issued to utility companies may be carried by their vehicles in lieu of the original.

(3) Copies of multi-trip permits issued for bus operation may be carried in the buses in lieu of the original.

(4) Copies of multi-trip permits issued for the movement of double-bottom vehicles may be carried in the vehicle in lieu of the original or they may be posted at the destination point of the route or they may be retained at the nearest office of the permittee.

(5) [Deleted.]

(f)

(1) No person shall fail to provide accurate information concerning the granting of a permit.

(2) No person shall violate any of the terms, conditions, restrictions, rules or regulations published in the policy or stated on the permit. A violation of any of the terms and conditions set forth in such permit shall render the permit null and void.

(3) Any permit obtained on the basis of false or misleading data is null and void. Any fee levied for it shall not be returned or transferred.

(4) Any permit which shall be rendered null and void for whatever reason shall subject the violator to such punishment as shall be permitted by law for persons not having obtained permits in the first instance.

(g) The revenue from the fees imposed pursuant to this section shall be deposited no later than the close of the next business day following such receipt, to the credit of the Transportation Trust Fund, established pursuant to Chapter 14 of Title 2, as amended.

Title 7 of the Delaware Administrative Code

9202 Regulations Governing Natural Areas and Nature Preserves

13.0     Aviation – Environmental D Violations

13.1     No person shall voluntarily bring, land or cause to descend or alight on or upon any lands or waters administered by the Division any aircraft, flying machine, balloon, parachute, drones or other apparatus for aviation except with the prior consent of the Director. “Voluntarily” shall mean for purposes of this paragraph anything other than a forced or emergency landing.

13.2     Flying of radio‑controlled model aircraft, including drones, or the launching of model rockets shall not be permitted in areas administered by the Division except in areas set aside and designated for such purposes. Special policies regarding insurance and operating conditions will be posted.

 

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.