Virginia Drone Laws from Attorney & Pilot (2018)


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 July 28, 2018.

§ 15.2-926.3. Local regulation of certain aircraft.

No locality political subdivision may regulate the use of a privately owned, unmanned aircraft system as defined in § 19.2-60.1 within its boundaries. Nothing in this section shall permit a person to go or enter upon land owned by a political subdivision solely because he is in possession of an unmanned aircraft system if he would not otherwise be permitted entry upon such land.

 

§ 18.2-121.3. Trespass with an unmanned aircraft system; penalty.

A. Any person who knowingly and intentionally causes an unmanned aircraft system to enter the property of another and come within 50 feet of a dwelling house (i) to coerce, intimidate, or harass another person or (ii) after having been given actual notice to desist, for any other reason, is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

 

B.This section shall not apply to any person who causes an unmanned aircraft system to enter the property as set forth in subsection A if (i) consent is given to the entry by any person with legal authority to consent or by any person who is lawfully present on such property or (ii) such person is authorized by federal regulations to operate an unmanned aircraft system and is operating such system in an otherwise lawful manner and consistent with federal regulations.

 

§ 18.2-324.2. Use of unmanned aircraft system for certain purposes; penalty.

A. It is unlawful for any person who is required to register pursuant to §9.1-901 to use or operate an unmanned aircraft system to knowingly and intentionally (i) follow or contact another person without permission of such person or (ii) capture the images of another person without permission of such person when such images render the person recognizable by his face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristic.

 

B. It is unlawful for a respondent of a protective order issued pursuant to §16.1-279.1 or 19.2-152.10 to knowingly and intentionally use or operate an unmanned aircraft system to follow, contact, or capture images of the petitioner of the protective order or any other individual named in the protective order.

 

C. A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

 

§ 19.2-60.1. Use of unmanned aircraft systems by public bodies; search warrant required.

A. As used in this section, unless the context requires a different meaning:

“Unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

“Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements, including communication links, sensing devices, and the components that control the unmanned aircraft.

 

B. No state or local government department, agency, or instrumentality having jurisdiction over criminal law enforcement or regulatory violations, including but not limited to the Department of State Police, and no department of law enforcement as defined in § 15.2-836of any county, city, or town shall utilize an unmanned aircraft system except during the execution of a search warrant issued pursuant to this chapter or an administrative or inspection warrant issued pursuant to law.

 

C. Notwithstanding the prohibition in this section, an unmanned aircraft system may be deployed without a warrant (i) when an Amber Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.3, (ii) when a Senior Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.6, (iii) when a Blue Alert is activated pursuant to § 52-34.9, (iv) where use of an unmanned aircraft system is determined to be necessary to alleviate an immediate danger to any person, (v) for training exercises related to such uses, or (vi) if a person with legal authority consents to the warrantless search.

 

D. The warrant requirements of this section shall not apply when such systems are utilized to support the Commonwealth for purposes other than law enforcement, including damage assessment, traffic assessment, flood stage assessment, and wildfire assessment. Nothing herein shall prohibit use of unmanned aircraft systems for private, commercial, or recreational use or solely for research and development purposes by institutions of higher education and other research organizations or institutions.

 

E. Evidence obtained through the utilization of an unmanned aircraft system in violation of this section is not admissible in any criminal or civil proceeding.

 

F. In no case may a weaponized unmanned aircraft system be deployed in the Commonwealth or its use facilitated in the Commonwealth by a state or local government department, agency, or instrumentality or department of law enforcement in the Commonwealth except in operations at the Space Port and Naval/Aegis facilities at Wallops Island.

 

G. Nothing herein shall apply to the Armed Forces of the United States or the Virginia National Guard while utilizing unmanned aircraft systems during training required to maintain readiness for its federal mission or when facilitating training for other U.S. Department of Defense units.

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