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.

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