Tennessee 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

39-13-901.  Part definitions.

As used in this part:

(1) “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; and

(2) “Unmanned aircraft” means an airborne device that is operated without an individual in or on the device.

 

39-13-902.  Lawful capture of images – Use for lawful purposes.

 

(a) Notwithstanding § 39-13-903, it is lawful to capture an image using an unmanned aircraft in this state:

(1) For purposes of professional or scholarly research and development by a person acting on behalf of an institution of higher education, as defined by § 49-7-802, 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 authorized operation, exercise, or mission of any branch of the United States military, consistent with the Constitution of the United States;

(4) If the image is captured for the purposes of mapping; provided, the image of any person or thing on private property captured in the course of mapping shall be subject to § 39-13-905 as an image captured incidental to the lawful capturing of an image;

(5) If the image is captured for the practice of land surveying, as defined in § 62- 18-102, by a duly registered land surveyor, pursuant to title 62, chapter 18, part 1; provided, the image of any person or thing on private property captured in the course of land surveying shall be subject to § 39-13-905 as an image captured incident to the lawful capturing of an image;

(6) 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; or

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

(7) With the consent of the individual who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image

(8) For law enforcement purposes, as permitted by § 39-13-609;

(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 Tennessee 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 public real property or a person on that property;

(15) If the image is captured by the owner, operator or agent, or a person under contract with the owner, operator or agent, 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;

(16) In connection with oil and gas pipeline and well safety and protection;

(17) In connection with port authority surveillance and security;

(18) As authorized or permitted by the federal aviation administration for use in a motion picture, television or similar production where the filming is authorized by the property owner and a state or local film permit agency, if required;

(19) As a part of a commercial service that has received authorization from the federal aviation administration to use unmanned aircraft or an unmanned aircraft operating under regulations promulgated by the federal aviation administration for commercial use of unmanned aircraft;

(20) If the image is captured by the department of transportation, or a person under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction of or on behalf of the department of transportation, for the purpose of planning, locating, designing, constructing, maintaining, or operating transportation programs or projects; provided, the image of any person or thing on private property captured by or for the department of transportation pursuant to this subdivision shall be subject to § 39-13-905 as an image captured incident to the lawful capturing of an image; or

(21) If the image is captured for the practice of photogrammetric mapping by an individual who holds the “certified photogrammetrist” designation of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing or other national scientific organization having a process for certifying photogrammetrists; provided, the image of any person or thing on private property captured in the course of photogrammetric mapping shall be subject to § 39-13-905 as an image captured incident to the lawful capturing of an image.

(b) An image captured for law enforcement purposes by a state or local law enforcement agency, or by a person who is under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction of or on behalf of such agency, shall be handled in accordance with § 39-13-609 and shall not be used for any purpose other than the lawful purpose for which the image was captured as permitted by this section.

 

39-13-903.  Unlawful capture of image with intent to conduct surveillance a misdemeanor offense -Defense.

(a) Subject to the exceptions set forth in § 39-13-902(a), a person commits an offense if the person:

(1) 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;

(2) Knowingly uses an image in a manner prohibited by § 39-13-902(b);

(3) Without the venue owner or operator’s consent, uses an unmanned aircraft to intentionally capture an image of an individual or event at an open-air event venue wherein more than one hundred (100) individuals are gathered for a ticketed event;

(4)

(A) Knowingly uses an unmanned aircraft within or over a designated fireworks discharge site, fireworks display site, or fireworks fallout area during an event as defined in § 68-104-202, without the consent of the owner or operator of the event; and

(B) For purposes of this subdivision (a)(4):

(i) “Discharge site” means the area immediately surrounding the fireworks mortars used for an outdoor fireworks display;

(ii) “Display site” means the immediate area where a fireworks display is conducted, including the discharge site, the fallout area, and the required separation distance from mortars to spectator viewing areas, but not including the spectator viewing areas or vehicle parking areas; and

(iii) “Fallout area” means the designated area in which hazardous debris is intended to fall after a pyrotechnic device, including display fireworks, is fired;

(5) Knowingly uses an unmanned aircraft over the grounds of a correctional facility; or

(6)

(A) Without the business operator’s written consent, knowingly uses an unmanned aircraft within two hundred fifty feet (250′) of the perimeter of any critical infrastructure facility for the purpose of conducting surveillance of, gathering evidence or collecting information about, or photographically or electronically recording, critical infrastructure data;

(B) As used in this subdivision (a)(6), “critical infrastructure facility” means:

(i) An electrical power generation system; electrical transmission system, either as a whole system or any individual component of the transmission system; or electrical distribution substation;

(ii) A petroleum refinery;

(iii) A manufacturing facility that utilizes any hazardous substance, as defined in § 68-131-102, either in storage or in the process of manufacturing;

(iv) A chemical or rubber manufacturing facility;

(v) A petroleum or chemical storage facility;

(vi) A water or wastewater treatment facility;

(vii) Any facility, equipment, or pipeline infrastructure utilized in the storage, transmission, or distribution of natural gas or propane; and

(viii) Railroad yards and facilities not open to the general public;

(C) This subdivision (a)(6) shall not prohibit an unmanned aircraft system from operating for commercial purposes in compliance with authorization granted by the Federal Aviation Administration.

(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.

 

39-13-904.  Possession or distribution and use of unlawfully captured images – Misdemeanor offenses – Separate images constitute separate offenses – Defenses.

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

(1) Captures an image in violation of § 39-13-903; and

(2)

(A) Possesses that image; or

(B) Discloses, displays, distributes, or otherwise uses that image.

(b)

(1) An offense under subdivision (a)(2)(A) is a Class C misdemeanor.

(2) An offense under subdivision (a)(2)(B) 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 § 39-13-903.

(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 § 39-13-903.

 

39-13-905.  Use of unlawfully captured images as evidence -Disclosure of images limited.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by subsection (b), an image captured in violation of § 39-13-903, 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 title 10, chapter 7; 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 part and is subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for that purpose.

 

39-13-906.  Applicability of part.

This part shall not apply to the manufacture, assembly, distribution, or sale of an unmanned aircraft.

 

39-13-907.  Construction of part.

Nothing in this part shall be construed as permitting any act prohibited by other law.

 

70-4-301.  Part definitions.

As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) “Drone” means a drone as defined in § 39-13-609;

(2) “Taking” means the capture or killing of a wild animal and includes travel, camping, and other acts preparatory to taking that occur on lands or waters upon which the affected person has the right or privilege to take such wild animal; and

(3) “Wild animal” means any wild creature, the taking of which is authorized by the fish and game laws of the state.

 

70-4-302.  Violations -Penalty.

(a) Any person who performs any of the following commits a Class C misdemeanor:

(1) Interferes with the lawful taking of a wild animal by another with intent to prevent the taking;

(2) Disturbs or engages in an activity that will tend to disturb wild animals, with intent to prevent their lawful taking;

(3) Disturbs another person who is engaged in the lawful taking of a wild animal or who is engaged in the process of taking, with intent to dissuade or otherwise prevent the taking;

(4) Enters or remains upon public lands, or upon private lands without permission of the owner or the owner’s agent, with intent to violate this section;

(5) Fails to obey the order of a peace officer to desist from conduct in violation of this section if the officer observes such conduct, or has reasonable grounds to believe that the person has engaged in such conduct that day or that the person plans or intends to engage in such conduct that day on a specific premises; or

(6) Uses a drone with the intent to conduct video surveillance of private citizens who are lawfully hunting or fishing without obtaining the written consent of the persons being surveilled prior to conducting the surveillance.

(b) As used in subsection (a), “any person” means any individual, firm, association, company, partnership, corporation, public or private organization, institution or similar entity.

 

70-4-303.  Injunctions – Damages – Construction.

(a) Any court may enjoin conduct that would be in violation of § 70-4-302 upon petition by a person affected or who reasonably may be affected by such conduct, upon a showing that such conduct is threatened or that it has occurred on a particular premises in the past and that it is not unreasonable to expect that under similar circumstances it will be repeated.

(b) A court may award damages to any person adversely affected by a violation of § 70-4-302, which may include an award for punitive damages. In addition to other items of special damage, the measure of damages may include expenditures of the affected person for license and permit fees, travel, guides, special equipment and supplies, to the extent that such expenditures were rendered futile by prevention of the taking of a wild animal.

(c) No provision of this part shall be construed to prohibit or otherwise restrict any landowner, tenant, or employee of a landowner from engaging in normal activities on or normal use of the land or property, and such activities or use shall not be deemed unlawful pursuant to any provision of this part. No provision of this part shall be construed so as to interfere with the right of the landowner to prohibit trespass upon the landowner’s property by any person.

1720-01-02-.01 DEDICATION OF UNIVERSITY PROPERTY.

The University of Tennessee

(“University”) dedicates its property exclusively to the advancement of the University’s principal missions of teaching, research, and service. The University regulates its property to preserve it for the advancement of the University’s principal missions.

1720-01-02-.02 DEFINITIONS.

(1) The term “University property” means all land, grounds, structures, and any other physical property owned, controlled, or operated by the University of Tennessee.

(2) The term “University unit” means any academic, administrative, or auxiliary department or division of the University or any other official entity of the University, functioning through University employees acting within the scope of their University employment.

(3) The term “unmanned aircraft” means a device that is used or is intended to be used for flight in the air without an individual in or on the device (e.g., drone, model aircraft).

1720-01-02-.03 AUTHORIZED USERS AND PERMISSIBLE USES.

(1) The use of University property is limited to the following persons, subject to Section .03(2) and Section .05:

(a) University students;

(b) University employees;

(c) Members of the Board of Trustees;

(d) Government officials acting in their official capacities;

(e) A person or entity invited by a University unit, including but not limited to, a person or

entity who has a contract to provide services to the University, provided that the use of

University property shall not exceed the scope of the University unit’s invitation;

(f) A person who has been invited by a University student, student organization, or

employee in his/her personal capacity, to join the student, student organization, or

employee in the use of University property (e.g., friends and family), but not including

the use of University property for free expression activities, provided that the use of

University property shall not exceed the scope of the invitation;

(g) A non-affiliated person using University property for free expression activities pursuant

to Chapter 1720-01-12 (Use of University Property by Non-Affiliated Persons for Free

Expression Activities);

(h) Volunteers of the University, as defined by University policy, within the scope of their

volunteer work;

(i) Prospective students visiting University property and persons accompanying

prospective students for purposes reasonably necessary to evaluate the University as

an educational institution;

(j) Alumni visiting University property and persons accompanying alumni;

(k) A person who has a right of access to University property under Tennessee Code

Annotated § 8-50-1001 or any other statutory provisions permitting access to University

property;

(l) Any person or entity engaged in one of the following uses of University property:

  1. The use of University property for the purpose of attending a University activity or

event that is open to attendance by the members of the general public at a

designated place and time (e.g., athletic contests, plays, lectures, concerts);

  1. The use of University-owned streets, or University-owned sidewalks bordering

University-owned streets, as thoroughfares while traveling from one location to

another location;

  1. The use of University property that is open to the general public (e.g., campus

bookstore, library, museum);

  1. The use of University property consistent with the terms of a lease agreement

with the University; or

  1. The use of University property for a purpose relating to obtaining medical

treatment from the University.

(2) The use of University property shall be consistent with the University’s principal missions of

teaching, research, and service. A person using University property shall not:

(a) block or substantially impede vehicular, bicycle, pedestrian, or other traffic;

(b) block or substantially impede entrances or exits to University property;

(c) substantially disrupt or interfere with University operations, events, or activities;

(d) substantially disrupt or interfere with the ability of a student to sleep or study in a

University residence hall between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. during an

academic term;

(e) substantially disrupt or interfere with the ability of a student to study in a University

library;

(f) violate a federal, state, or local law, rule, regulation, or ordinance;

(g) violate University rules, policies, or procedures;

(h) engage in speech that is obscene; is defamatory; consists of fighting words;

communicates an objectively serious expression of intent to commit an act of unlawful

violence to a particular individual or group; or is directed to inciting or producing

imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action;

(i) engage in camping in violation of Tennessee law, the Equal Access to Public Property

Act of 2012, unless the area on which camping occurs has been specifically designated

by the University as available for camping;

(j) unreasonably threaten the health or safety of another person; or

(k) damage or deface University property, including, but not limited to, grass, shrubs, trees,

or other landscaping.

(3) Nothing in Section .03(2) shall be construed to prohibit a use of University property that has

been expressly authorized by the University (e.g., a construction project that temporarily

interferes with the use of a street);

1720-01-02-.05 NO-TRESPASS NOTICES.

(1) A No-Trespass Notice (“Notice”) is a written directive requiring a non-affiliated person to leave

and/or not enter all or part of University property.

(2) A sworn law enforcement officer employed by the University may issue a Notice to a nonaffiliated

person:

(a) who is not authorized to use University property under Section .03(1), and who has

refused to leave University property, or a specified part of University property, within a reasonable time after the person has received an oral request to leave by a University

official;

(b) who has engaged in a use of University property that is prohibited by Section .03(2),

and who has refused to cease the prohibited conduct within a reasonable time after

receiving an oral request to do so from a University official;

(c) who, in the good faith judgment of the law enforcement officer issuing the Notice, poses

an unreasonable threat to the health, safety, or welfare of a person(s) affiliated with the

University while on University property; or

(d) who, in the good faith judgment of the law enforcement officer issuing the Notice, has

engaged in conduct that substantially disrupts or interferes with University operations,

events, or activities, or is likely to cause such a disruption or interference.

(3) A Notice must specify: the reason for the Notice; the geographical scope of the restriction; the

duration of the restriction, which may be for an indefinite period; the potential consequences

of a violation of the Notice; and the process for appealing the issuance of the Notice. The

scope and duration of the restriction imposed must be proportional to the underlying

misconduct. In appropriate circumstances, with respect to conduct on University property, a

Notice also may prohibit a non-affiliated person from contacting or being within a certain

distance from a person affiliated with the University.

(4) Appeals

(a) A non-affiliated person to whom a Notice has been issued may appeal the decision to

the chief of police for the University’s campus/institute.

(b) A non-affiliated person must submit the appeal in writing. The written appeal must be

received by the chief of police within twenty (20) calendar days of the date on which the

Notice was provided to the non-affiliated person. Any Notice mailed (or e-mailed) to a

non-affiliated person shall be deemed to have been provided on the date on which it

was mailed (or e-mailed). The written appeal should include the non-affiliated person’s

reason for being on University property, the non-affiliated person’s future need to be on

University property, and any other information the non-affiliated person wishes the

University official who issued the Notice to consider.

(c) Upon receipt of a written appeal, the chief of police will consult as needed with other

University officials to verify the non-affiliated person’s need for access to University

property, to gather additional information or advice, or to review the impact that granting

the appeal may have on persons affiliated with the University.

(d) Within twenty (20) calendar days of the receipt of an appeal submitted in accordance

with this Chapter, the chief of police will sustain, rescind or modify the Notice in a

written decision that will be mailed to the address provided by the non-affiliated person.

The decision of the chief of police is final and not appealable within the University.

(e) The restrictions set forth in the Notice will remain in effect while an appeal of the Notice

is pending.

(f) If the chief of police issued the Notice, then the non-affiliated person may appeal to the

supervisor of the chief of police following the procedures set forth in Section .05(4)(a)-

(e).

1720-01-02-.06 USE OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT.

(1) The purpose of the restrictions in this Section .06 is to ensure the safe and orderly use of

unmanned aircraft on, at, inside, or above University property.

(2) Unmanned aircraft shall not be used:

(a) By a person who is not authorized to use University property under Section .03;

(b) At a time, in a place, or in a manner prohibited under Section .03;

(c) Inside University buildings or facilities;

(d) On or above University-owned streets or University-owned sidewalks;

(e) Above a human being who is either not directly participating in the operation of the

unmanned aircraft or not located under a covered structure that can provide reasonable

protection from a falling unmanned aircraft;

(f) On or above a University campus within four hours prior to the scheduled kickoff time of

an intercollegiate football game on that campus, during the game, or within two hours

after the conclusion of the game;

(g) Outside the hours of official sunrise and sunset; or

(h) In a manner that violates federal or state law, including, without limitation, regulations

issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.

(3) This Section .06 does not apply to unmanned aircraft used by a University unit, including

faculty conducting research using unmanned aircraft, or a person or entity with whom the

University has contracted to operate an unmanned aircraft; provided, however, that

unmanned aircraft shall be used in accordance with federal and state law, including, without

limitation, regulations issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.

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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.