Utah 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 October 28, 2017

Effective 5/9/2017

Part 1 General Provisions

72-14-101 Title.

This chapter is known as “Unmanned Aircraft — Drones.”

Renumbered and Amended by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

72-14-102 Definitions.

 As used in this chapter:

(1) “Airport” means the same as that term is defined in Section 72-10-102.

(2) “Airport operator” means the same as that term is defined in Section 72-10-102.

(3) “Unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft that is:

(a) capable of sustaining flight; and

(b) operated with no possible direct human intervention from on or within the aircraft.

(4) “Unmanned aircraft system” means the entire system used to operate an unmanned aircraft, including:

(a) the unmanned aircraft, including payload;

(b) communications equipment;

(c) navigation equipment;

(d) controllers;

(e) support equipment; and

(f) autopilot functionality.

Renumbered and Amended by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

72-14-103 Preemption of local ordinance.

(1) A political subdivision of the state, or an entity within a political subdivision of the state, may not enact a law, ordinance, or rule governing the private use of an unmanned aircraft unless:

(a) authorized by this chapter; or

(b) the political subdivision or entity is an airport operator that enacts the law, rule, or ordinance to govern:

(i) the operation of an unmanned aircraft within the geographic boundaries of the airport over which the airport operator has authority; or

(ii) the takeoff or landing of an unmanned aircraft at the airport over which the airport operator has authority.

(2) This chapter supersedes any law, ordinance, or rule enacted by a political subdivision of the state before July 1, 2017.

Enacted by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

72-14-104 Applicability.

This chapter does not apply to a person or business entity:

(1) using an unmanned aircraft for legitimate educational or business purposes; and

(2) operating the unmanned aircraft system in a manner consistent with applicable Federal Aviation Administration rules, exemptions, or other authorizations.

Enacted by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

Part 2 – Law Enforcement Use of Unmanned Aircraft

72-14-201 Title.

This part is known as “Law Enforcement Use of Unmanned Aircraft.”

Enacted by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

72-14-202 Definitions.

 

As used in this part:

(1) “Civilian” means a person that is not a law enforcement officer.

(2) “Law enforcement agency” means the same as that term is defined in Section 53-3-102.

(3) “Law enforcement officer” means the same as that term is defined in Section 53-13-103.

(4) “Target” means a person upon whom, or an object, structure, or area upon which, another person:

(a) has intentionally collected or attempted to collect information through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system; or

(b) intends to collect or to attempt to collect information through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system.

Enacted by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

72-14-203 Unmanned aircraft system use requirements – Exceptions.

(1) A law enforcement agency or officer may not obtain, receive, or use data acquired through an unmanned aircraft system unless the data is obtained:

(a) pursuant to a search warrant;

(b) in accordance with judicially recognized exceptions to warrant requirements;

(c) subject to Subsection (2), from a person who is a nongovernment actor;

(d) to locate a lost or missing person in an area in which a person has no reasonable expectation of privacy; or

(e) for purposes unrelated to a criminal investigation.

(2) A law enforcement officer or agency may only use for law enforcement purposes data obtained from a nongovernment actor if:

(a) the data appears to pertain to the commission of a crime; or

(b) the law enforcement agency or officer believes, in good faith, that:

(i) the data pertains to an imminent or ongoing emergency involving danger of death or serious bodily injury to an individual; and

(ii) disclosing the data would assist in remedying the emergency.

(3) A law enforcement agency or officer that obtains, receives, or uses data acquired through the use of an unmanned aircraft system or through Subsection (2) shall destroy the data as soon as reasonably possible after the law enforcement agency or officer obtains, receives, or uses the data subject to an applicable retention schedule under Title 63G, Chapter 2, Government Records Access and Management Act, or a federal, state, or local law.

Renumbered and Amended by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

72-14-204 Data retention.

(1) Except as provided in this section, a law enforcement agency:

(a) may not use, copy, or disclose data collected by an unmanned aircraft system on a person, structure, or area that is not a target; and

(b) in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws, shall ensure that data described in Subsection (1)(a) is destroyed as soon as reasonably possible after the law enforcement agency collects or receives the data.

(2) A law enforcement agency is not required to comply with Subsection (1) if:

(a) deleting the data would also require the deletion of data that:

(i) relates to the target of the operation; and

(ii) is requisite for the success of the operation;

(b) the law enforcement agency receives the data:

(i) through a court order that:

(A) requires a person to release the data to the law enforcement agency; or

(B) prohibits the destruction of the data; or

(ii) from a person who is a nongovernment actor;

(c)

(i) the data was collected inadvertently; and

(ii) the data appears to pertain to the commission of a crime;

(d)

(i) the law enforcement agency reasonably determines that the data pertains to an emergency situation; and

(ii) using or disclosing the data would assist in remedying the emergency; or

(e) the data was collected through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system over public lands outside of municipal boundaries.

Renumbered and Amended by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

72-14-205 Reporting.

(1) As used in this section, “law enforcement encounter” means the same as that term is defined in Section 77-7a-103.

(2) A law enforcement officer or agency that operates an unmanned aircraft system while on duty or acting in the law enforcement officer’s or agency’s official capacity, or obtains or receives data in accordance with Section 72-14-203, shall document the following in any report or other official record of the law enforcement encounter:

(a) the presence and use of the unmanned aircraft;

(b) any data acquired; and

(c) if applicable, the person from whom data was received in accordance with Subsection 72-14-203(2).

Enacted by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

Part 3 – Unlawful Use of Unmanned Aircraft

72-14-301 Title.

This part is known as “Unlawful Use of Unmanned Aircraft.”
Enacted by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

72-14-302 Reserved.

Enacted by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

72-14-303 Weapon attached to unmanned aircraft – Penalties.

(1) As used in this section “weapon” means:

(a) a firearm as described in Section 76-10-501; or

(b) an object that in the manner of the object’s use or intended use is capable of causing death, bodily injury, or damage to property, as determined according to the following factors:

(i) the location and circumstances in which the object is used or possessed;

(ii) the primary purpose for which the object is made;

(iii) the character of the damage, if any, the object is likely to cause;

(iv) the manner in which the object is used;

(v) whether the manner in which the object is used or possessed constitutes a potential imminent threat to public safety; and

(vi) the lawful purposes for which the object may be used.

(2)

(a) Except as provided in Subsection (3), a person may not fly an unmanned aircraft that carries a weapon or to which a weapon is attached.

(b) A person that violates Subsection (2)(a) is guilty of a class B misdemeanor.

(3) A person may fly an unmanned aircraft that carries a weapon or to which a weapon is attached if the person:

(a)

(i) obtains a certificate of authorization, or other written approval, from the Federal Aviation Administration authorizing the person to fly the unmanned aircraft that carries the weapon or to which the weapon is attached; and

(ii) operates the unmanned aircraft in accordance with the certificate of authorization or other written approval;

(b)

(i) obtains a contract with the state or the federal government permitting the person to fly the unmanned aircraft that carries the weapon or to which the weapon is attached; and

(ii) operates the unmanned aircraft in accordance with the contract; or

(c) operates the unmanned aircraft that carries the weapon or to which the weapon is attached in airspace controlled by the United States Department of Defense, with the permission of the United States Department of Defense.

Enacted by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

Part 4 – Safe Use of Unmanned Aircraft

72-14-401 Title.

This part is known as “Safe Use of Unmanned Aircraft.”
Enacted by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

72-14-402 Reserved.

Enacted by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

72-14-403 Safe operation of unmanned aircraft.

(1) An individual who operates an unmanned aircraft system to fly an unmanned aircraft for recreational purposes shall comply with this section or 14 C.F.R. Sec. 101, Subpart E.

(2) An individual operating an unmanned aircraft shall:

(a) maintain visual line of sight of the unmanned aircraft in order to:

(i) know the location of the unmanned aircraft;

(ii) determine the attitude, altitude, and direction of flight;

(iii) observe the airspace for other air traffic or hazards; and

(iv) determine that the unmanned aircraft does not endanger the life or property of another person;

(b) ensure that the ability described in Subsection (2)(a)(i) is exercised by either:

(i) the operator of the unmanned aircraft; or

(ii) a visual observer.

(3) An individual may not operate an unmanned aircraft in Class B, Class C, or Class D airspace or within the lateral boundaries of the surface area of Class E airspace designated for an airport unless the operator of the unmanned aircraft has prior authorization from air traffic control.

(4) An individual may not operate an unmanned aircraft in a manner that interferes with operations and traffic patterns at any airport, heliport, or seaplane base.

(5) An individual may not operate an unmanned aircraft system:

(a) from a public transit rail platform or station; or

(b)

(i) under a height of 50 feet within a public transit fixed guideway right-of-way; and

(ii) directly above any overhead electric lines used to power a public transit rail vehicle.

(6) An individual may not operate an unmanned aircraft in violation of a notice to airmen described in 14 C.F.R. Sec. 107.47.

(7) An individual may not operate an unmanned aircraft at an altitude that is higher than 400 feet above ground level unless the unmanned aircraft:

(a) is flown within a 400-foot radius of a structure; and

(b) does not fly higher than 400 feet above the structure’s immediate uppermost limit.

(8)

(a) An individual who violates this section is liable for any damages that may result from the violation.

(b) A law enforcement officer shall issue a written warning to an individual who violates this section who has not previously received a written warning for a violation of this section.

(c) Except as provided in Subsection (8)(d), an individual who violates this section after receiving a written warning for a previous violation of this section is guilty of an infraction.

(d) An individual who violates this section is guilty of a class B misdemeanor for each conviction of a violation of this section after the individual is convicted of an infraction or a misdemeanor for a previous violation of this section.

Enacted by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session
Effective 7/17/2016

65A-3-2.5 Wildland fire and unmanned aircraft.

(1) As used in this section:

(a) “Incident commander” means the government official or employee in command of the response to a wildland fire.

(b) “Neutralize” means to terminate the operation of an unmanned aircraft by:

(i) disabling or damaging the unmanned aircraft;

(ii) interfering with any portion of the unmanned aircraft system associated with the unmanned aircraft; or

(iii) otherwise taking control of the unmanned aircraft or the unmanned aircraft system associated with the unmanned aircraft.

(c) “Sanctioned entity” includes a person that oversees, is employed by, or is working under the direction of:

(i) a government entity;

(ii) a telecommunications provider;

(iii) a utility provider;

(iv) the owner or operator of a pipeline;

(v) an insurance provider;

(vi) a resource extraction entity;

(vii) news media;

(viii) a person that operates an unmanned aircraft system under a certificate of waiver, a certificate of authorization, or any other grant of authority obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration that expressly authorizes operation of the unmanned aircraft system; or

(ix) a person similar to a person described in Subsections (1)(c)(i) through (vii).

(d) “Unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft that is:

(i) capable of sustaining flight; and

(ii) operated with no possible direct human intervention from on or within the aircraft.

(e) “Unmanned aircraft system” means the entire system used to operate an unmanned aircraft, including:

(i) the unmanned aircraft;

(ii) communications equipment;

(iii) navigation equipment;

(iv) controllers;

(v) support equipment; and

(vi) autopilot functionality.

(2) A person may not operate an unmanned aircraft system in a manner that causes an unmanned aircraft to fly within an area that is under a temporary flight restriction that is issued by the Federal Aviation Administration as a result of the wildland fire, or an area designated as a wildland fire scene on a system managed by a federal, state, or local government entity that disseminates emergency information to the public, unless the person operates the unmanned aircraft system with the permission of, and in accordance with the restrictions established by, the incident commander.

(3) A person, other than a government official or a government employee acting within the person’s capacity as a government official or government employee, that recklessly operates an unmanned aircraft system in a manner that causes an unmanned aircraft to fly within an area described in Subsection (2) is guilty of:

(a) except as provided in Subsection (3)(b), (c), or (d), a class B misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment as provided in Section 76-3-204 and a fine not to exceed $2,500;

(b) except as provided in Subsection (3)(c) or (d), a class A misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment as provided in Section 76-3-204 and a fine not to exceed $5,000, if the operation of the unmanned aircraft system:

(i) causes an aircraft being used to contain or control a wildland fire to drop a payload of water or fire retardant in a location other than the location originally designated for the aircraft to drop the payload;

(ii) causes an aircraft being used to contain or control a wildland fire to land without dropping a payload of water or fire retardant in the location originally designated for the aircraft to drop the payload; or

(iii) prevents an aircraft, intended for use in containing or controlling a wildland fire, from taking flight;

(c) except as provided in Subsection (3)(d), a third degree felony, punishable by imprisonment as provided in Section 76-3-203 and a fine not to exceed $10,000, if the operation of the unmanned aircraft system causes the unmanned aircraft to come into direct physical contact with a manned aircraft; or

(d) a second degree felony, punishable by imprisonment as provided in Section 76-3-203 and a fine not to exceed $15,000, if the operation of the unmanned aircraft is the proximate cause of a manned aircraft colliding with the ground, a structure, or another manned aircraft.

(4) A judge may require a person convicted of a violation under Subsection (3) to pay restitution in an amount equal to damages resulting from the violation, including damages to person or property, the costs of a flight, and any loss of fire retardant.

(5) The incident commander of a wildland fire shall grant reasonable access to the area of, and within three miles of, the wildland fire to a sanctioned entity if:

(a) the access is for a purpose related to the responsibilities or business of the sanctioned entity; and

(b) the access can be granted, with reasonable restrictions, without imposing a safety risk or impairing efforts to control the wildland fire.

(6) The chief law enforcement officer for a jurisdiction located in an area described in Subsection (2) or the incident commander of a wildland fire may neutralize or authorize another to neutralize an unmanned aircraft that is flying in an area described in Subsection (2) if the chief law enforcement officer or the incident commander determines that the neutralization is reasonably necessary to terminate a violation described in Subsection (3).

(7) A political subdivision of the state, or an entity within a political subdivision of the state, may not enact a law, ordinance, or rule governing the private use of an unmanned aircraft in relation to a wildland fire.
Amended by Chapter 3, 2016 Special Session 3
Effective 5/9/2017

72-10-109 Certificate of registration of aircraft required – Exceptions.

(1)

(a) A person may not operate, pilot, or navigate, or cause or authorize to be operated, piloted, or navigated within this state any civil aircraft located in this state unless the aircraft has a current certificate of registration issued by this state through the county in which the aircraft is located.

(b) This restriction does not apply to aircraft licensed by a foreign country with which the United States has a reciprocal agreement covering the operations of the registered aircraft or to a non-passenger-carrying flight solely for inspection or test purposes authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to be made without the certificate of registration.

(2) Aircraft assessed by the State Tax Commission are exempt from the state registration requirement under Subsection (1).

(3) Unmanned aircraft as defined in Section 72-14-102 are exempt from the state registration requirement under Subsection (1).
Amended by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session
Effective 5/9/2017

76-6-206 Criminal trespass.

(1) As used in this section:

(a) “Enter” means intrusion of the entire body or the entire unmanned aircraft.

(b) “Remain unlawfully,” as that term relates to an unmanned aircraft, means remaining on or over private property when:

(i) the private property or any portion of the private property is not open to the public; and

(ii) the person operating the unmanned aircraft is not otherwise authorized to fly the unmanned aircraft over the private property or any portion of the private property.

(2) A person is guilty of criminal trespass if, under circumstances not amounting to burglary as defined in Section 76-6-202, 76-6-203, or 76-6-204 or a violation of Section 76-10-2402 regarding commercial obstruction:

(a) the person enters or remains unlawfully on or causes an unmanned aircraft to enter and remain unlawfully over property and:

(i) intends to cause annoyance or injury to any person or damage to any property, including the use of graffiti as defined in Section 76-6-107;

(ii) intends to commit any crime, other than theft or a felony; or

(iii) is reckless as to whether the person’s or unmanned aircraft’s presence will cause fear for the safety of another;

(b) knowing the person’s or unmanned aircraft’s entry or presence is unlawful, the person enters or remains on or causes an unmanned aircraft to enter or remain unlawfully over property to which notice against entering is given by:

(i) personal communication to the person by the owner or someone with apparent authority to act for the owner;

(ii) fencing or other enclosure obviously designed to exclude intruders; or

(iii) posting of signs reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders; or

(c) the person enters a condominium unit in violation of Subsection 57-8-7(8).

(3)

(a) A violation of Subsection (2)(a) or (b) is a class B misdemeanor unless the violation is committed in a dwelling, in which event the violation is a class A misdemeanor.

(b) A violation of Subsection (2)(c) is an infraction.

(4) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(a) the property was at the time open to the public; and

(b) the actor complied with all lawful conditions imposed on access to or remaining on the property.

Amended by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session
Effective 5/9/2017

76-9-402 Privacy violation.

(1) A person is guilty of privacy violation if, except as authorized by law, the person:

(a) trespasses on property with intent to subject anyone to eavesdropping or other surveillance in a private place;

(b) installs, or uses after unauthorized installation in a private place, without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy in the private place, any device for observing, photographing, hearing, recording, amplifying, or broadcasting sounds or events in the private place; or

(c) installs or uses outside of a private place a device for observing, photographing, hearing, recording, amplifying, or broadcasting sounds or events originating in the private place which would not ordinarily be audible, visible, or comprehensible outside the private place, without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy in the private place.

(2) A person is not guilty of a violation of this section if:

(a) the device used is an unmanned aircraft;

(b) the person is operating the unmanned aircraft for legitimate commercial or educational purposes in a manner consistent with applicable Federal Aviation Administration rules, exemptions, or other authorizations; and

(c) any conduct described in Subsection (1) that occurs via the unmanned aircraft is solely incidental to the lawful commercial or educational use of the unmanned aircraft.

(3) Privacy violation is a class B misdemeanor.
Amended by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session
Effective 5/9/2017

76-9-702.7 Voyeurism offenses – Penalties.

(1) A person is guilty of voyeurism who intentionally uses any type of technology to secretly or surreptitiously record video of a person:

(a) for the purpose of viewing any portion of the individual’s body regarding which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, whether or not that portion of the body is covered with clothing;

(b) without the knowledge or consent of the individual; and

(c) under circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(2) A violation of Subsection (1) is a class A misdemeanor, except that a violation of Subsection (1) committed against a child under 14 years of age is a third degree felony.

(3) Distribution or sale of any images, including in print, electronic, magnetic, or digital format, obtained under Subsection (1) by transmission, display, or dissemination is a third degree felony, except that if the violation of this Subsection (3) includes images of a child under 14 years of age, the violation is a second degree felony.

(4) A person is guilty of voyeurism who, under circumstances not amounting to a violation of Subsection (1), views or attempts to view an individual, with or without the use of any instrumentality:

(a) with the intent of viewing any portion of the individual’s body regarding which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, whether or not that portion of the body is covered with clothing;

(b) without the knowledge or consent of the individual; and

(c) under circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

(5) A violation of Subsection (4) is a class B misdemeanor, except that a violation of Subsection (4) committed against a child under 14 years of age is a class A misdemeanor.
Amended by Chapter 364, 2017 General Session

Utah Administrative Code Regulation

R651-602-8. Operation of Unmanned Aircraft.

A person must obtain written permission from the park manager before operating an unmanned aircraft within the park system.

R657-5-2. Definitions.

(1) Terms used in this rule are defined in Section 23-13-2.

(2) In addition:

…….

(s) “Drone” means an autonomously controlled, aerial vehicle of any size or configuration that is capable of controlled flight without a human pilot aboard.

R657-5-14. Use of Vehicle or Aircraft.

(1)

(a) A person may not use an airplane, drone, or any other airborne vehicle or device, or any motorized terrestrial or aquatic vehicle, including snowmobiles and other recreational vehicles, except a vessel as provided in Subsection (c), to take protected wildlife.

(b) A person may not take protected wildlife being chased, harmed, harassed, rallied, herded, flushed, pursued or moved by any vehicle, device, or conveyance listed in Subsection (a).

(c) Big game may be taken from a vessel provided:

(i) the motor of a motorboat has been completely shut off;

(ii) the sails of a sailboat have been furled; and

(iii) the vessel’s progress caused by the motor or sail has ceased.

(2)

(a) A person may not use any type of aircraft, drone, or other airborne vehicle or device from 48 hours before any big game hunt begins through 48 hours after any big game hunting season ends to:

(i) transport a hunter or hunting equipment into a hunting area;

(ii) transport a big game carcass; or

(iii) locate, or attempt to observe or locate any protected wildlife.

(b) Flying slowly at low altitudes, hovering, circling or repeatedly flying over a forest, marsh, field, woodland or rangeland where protected wildlife is likely to be found may be used as evidence of violations of Subsections (1) and (2).

(3) The provisions of this section do not apply to the operation of an aircraft, drone, or other airborne vehicle or device in a usual manner, or landings and departures from improved airstrips, where there is no attempt or intent to locate protected wildlife.

R651-601-18. Unmanned Aircraft.

(1) “Unmanned Aircraft” means an aircraft that is capable of sustaining flight and that operates with no possible direct human intervention from, on or within the aircraft.

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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.