Local and State Drone Laws

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Over the past few years, the United States has witnessed a growing trend of state and local drone-specific regulations that extend beyond the guidelines and restrictions established for non-recreational and recreational drone users by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These rules restrict a wide variety of behaviors, including drone use over private property without the property owner’s permission, invading privacy, conducting surveillance, and operating over public property or public parks. This report, the first in a three-part series on the local landscape of drones in the U.S., provides a detailed portrait of state and local drone rules across the country, and analyzes the implications of these rules for both rulemakers and drone operators. The report consists of an an analysis of a database of 135 localities that have enacted rules for drone use, a breakdown of drone-related statutes in states that have passed legislation governing the use of unmanned aircraft, and a brief discussion of the federal government’s regulations for drone use and its position on the enactment of local legislation and rules.

Key Takeaways

  • One hundred and thirty five localities in 31 states have enacted drone rules in recent years. These localities are home to over 30 million people.
  • The most common local restrictions include prohibitions against flying drones over public property and private property without the property owner’s consent.
  • A number of these rules may to contravene federal authority, and could result in legal conflict.
  • State statutes restrict the use of drones by law enforcement, the use of drones over critical infrastructure, and flights over private property, among other types of operations.

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Local Drone Laws Data

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State Drone Laws Data

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For more of the Drones at Home series, click here.