Vermont 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

Title 20, Chapter 205 of Vermont Statutes.

§ 4621. Definitions

As used in this chapter:

(1) “Drone” means a powered aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator and is able to fly autonomously or to be piloted remotely.

(2) “Law enforcement agency” means:

(A) the Vermont State Police;

(B) a municipal police department;

(C) a sheriff’s department;

(D) the Office of the Attorney General;

(E) a State’s Attorney’s office;

(F) the Capitol Police Department;

(G) the Department of Liquor Control;

(H) the Department of Fish and Wildlife;

(I) the Department of Motor Vehicles;

(J) a State investigator; or

(K) a person or entity acting on behalf of an agency listed in this subdivision (2). (Added 2015, No. 169 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Oct. 1, 2016.)

§ 4622. Law enforcement use of drones

(a) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a law enforcement agency shall not use a drone or information acquired through the use of a drone for the purpose of investigating, detecting, or prosecuting crime.

(b)

(1) A law enforcement agency shall not use a drone to gather or retain data on private citizens peacefully exercising their constitutional rights of free speech and assembly.

(2) This subsection shall not be construed to prohibit a law enforcement agency from using a drone:

(A) for observational, public safety purposes that do not involve gathering or retaining data; or

(B) pursuant to a warrant obtained under Rule 41 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure.

(c) A law enforcement agency may use a drone and may disclose or receive information acquired through the operation of a drone if the drone is operated:

(1) for a purpose other than the investigation, detection, or prosecution of crime, including search and rescue operations and aerial photography for the assessment of accidents, forest fires and other fire scenes, flood stages, and storm damage; or

(2) pursuant to:

(A) a warrant obtained under Rule 41 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure; or

(B) a judicially recognized exception to the warrant requirement.

(d)

(1) When a drone is used pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, the drone shall be operated in a manner intended to collect data only on the target of the surveillance and to avoid data collection on any other person, home, or area.

(2) Facial recognition or any other biometric matching technology shall not be used on any data that a drone collects on any person, home, or area other than the target of the surveillance.

(3)

(A) If a law enforcement agency uses a drone in exigent circumstances pursuant to subdivision (c)(2)(B) of this section, the agency shall obtain a search warrant for the use of the drone within 48 hours after the use commenced.

(B) If the court denies an application for a warrant filed pursuant to subdivision (A) of this subdivision (d)(3):

(i) use of the drone shall cease immediately; and

(ii) information or evidence gathered through use of the drone shall be destroyed.

(e) Information or evidence gathered in violation of this section shall be inadmissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding. (Added 2015, No. 169 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Oct. 1, 2016.)

§ 4623. Use of drones; Federal Aviation Administration requirements

(a) Any use of drones by any person, including a law enforcement agency, shall comply with all applicable Federal Aviation Administration requirements and guidelines.

(b) It is the intent of the General Assembly that any person who uses a model aircraft as defined in the Federal Aviation Administration Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 shall operate the aircraft according to the guidelines of community-based organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics National Model Aircraft Safety Code. (Added 2015, No. 169 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Oct. 1, 2016.)

§ 4624. Reports

(a) On or before September 1 of each year, any law enforcement agency that has used a drone within the previous 12 months shall report the following information to the Department of Public Safety:

(1) The number of times the agency used a drone within the previous 12 months. For each use of a drone, the agency shall report the type of incident involved, the nature of the information collected, and the rationale for deployment of the drone.

(2) The number of criminal investigations aided and arrests made through use of information gained by the use of drones within the previous 12 months, including a description of how the drone aided each investigation or arrest.

(3) The number of times a drone collected data on any person, home, or area other than the target of the surveillance within the previous 12 months and the type of data collected in each instance.

(4) The cost of the agency’s drone program and the program’s source of funding.

(b) On or before December 1 of each year that information is collected under subsection (a) of this section, the Department of Public Safety shall report the information to the House and Senate Committees on Judiciary and on Government Operations. (Added 2015, No. 169 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Oct. 1, 2016.)

Title 13 of Vermont Statutes Annotated

§ 4018. DRONES

(a) No person shall equip a drone with a dangerous or deadly weapon or fire a projectile from a drone. A person who violates this section shall be imprisoned not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

(b) As used in this section:

(1) “Drone” shall have the same meaning as in 20 V.S.A. § 4621.

(2) “Dangerous or deadly weapon” shall have the same meaning as in section 4016 of this title

Title 10 APPENDIX of Vermont Statutes Annotated. § 20 Aerial Hunting

1.0 Authority

This rule is adopted pursuant to 10 V.S.A. § 4081(a). In adopting this rule, the Fish and Wildlife Board is following the policy established by the general assembly that the protection, propagation, control, management, and conservation of fish, wildlife and fur-bearing animals in this state is in the interest of the public welfare and that the safeguarding of this valuable resource for the people of the State requires a constant and continual vigilance. In accordance with 10 V.S.A § 4084(a)(4), the Fish and Wildlife Board has the authority to prescribe the manner and means of taking any species or variety, and including reporting and tagging of game.

2.0 Purpose

The purpose of this rule is to restrict the taking of wild animals by use of aircraft and drones.

3.0 Definitions

a) “Aircraft” means a contrivance used for navigation of or flight in the air and specifically includes, but is not limited to, planes, helicopters, hang-gliders, hot air balloons and any other device that allows a person to fly or hover above the ground.

b) “Take or taking” as defined in 10 V.S.A. § 4001: pursuing, shooting, hunting, killing, capturing, trapping, snaring and netting fish, birds and quadrupeds and all lesser acts, such as disturbing, harrying or worrying or wounding or placing, setting, drawing or using any net or other device commonly used to take fish or wild animals, whether they result in the taking or not; and shall include every attempt to take and every act of assistance to every other person in taking or attempting to take fish or wild animals, provided that when taking is allowed by law, reference is had to taking by lawful means and in lawful manner.

c) “Unmanned aerial vehicle” means any device capable of flying in the air which is remotely, automatically or otherwise piloted without an occupant, including but not limited to drones.

d) “Wild animal” as defined in 10 V.S.A. § 4001: all animals, including birds, fish, amphibians, and reptiles, other than domestic animals.

 4.0 Aerial Hunting and Taking Prohibitions; Generally

4.1 It shall be unlawful for any person to take or attempt to take wild animals while a person is in an aircraft.

4.2 It shall be unlawful for any person to take or attempt to take wild animals by use of an UAV.

4.3 It shall be unlawful for any person within an aircraft, or with the use of a drone or UAV, to:

a) attempt to locate, surveil, or aid or assist in attempting to locate or surveil any wild animal, for the purpose of taking or attempting to take the wild animal; or

b) drive or harass any wild animal, or otherwise aid or assist in taking or attempting to take a wild animal.

 5.0 Authorized Exceptions

Nothing in this rule shall be construed to relieve or modify the requirement to comply with applicable state and federal regulations, regarding aircraft and UAVs or, to apply to qualified personnel carrying out their lawful duties, in compliance with applicable state and federal regulations and permits, regarding aircraft and “UAVs”. (Added 2015, Fish and Wildlife Board Reg., eff. Mar. 14, 2015.)

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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.