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Drone Laws by State

Just like cell phones and the Internet -- which began as military communication tools -- unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones, are no longer limited to military or government use. In fact, drones equipped with video cameras have quickly become popular with hobbyists and can be found in most toy stores. Commercial interests and research entities have found novel new ways to use these small, pilotless vehicles as well.

In addition to federal drone regulations, states also have passed laws regulating the use of drones by individuals, businesses, law enforcement, and other interests. Below are summaries of drone laws by state. Find your state to learn more about its regulation of drones.  

Alabama None
Alaska None
Arizona None
Arkansas

Act 293: Prohibits the use of drones to commit video voyeurism (invasion of privacy). Class B misdemeanor; Class A misdemeanor if images were distributed or transmitted to another party, or posted to the Internet.

Act 1019: Prohibits the use of drones for surveillance and/or the gathering of information on "critical infrastructure" (oil refinery, chemical manufacturing facility, power plant, etc.) without written consent.

California Civil Code Section 1708.8: Prohibits the use of drones to capture video and/or a sound recording of another person without their consent (invasion of privacy). Violators are liable for up to three times the amount of damages related to the violation, and a civil fine of between $5,000 and $50,000.
Colorado None
Connecticut None
District of Columbia None

Delaware

None
Florida Criminal Code Section 934.50: Drones may not be used for surveillance in violation of another party's reasonable expectation of privacy; this includes law enforcement. However, police may use drones with a valid search warrant. Violators may be ordered to pay legal fees and compensatory damages; victims may seek injunctive relief.
Georgia None
Hawaii Act 208: Establishes a drone test site advisory board and creates the position of chief operatingofficer to oversee the test site.
Idaho None
Illinois 20 ILCS 5065: This act creates the Unmanned Aerial System Oversight Task Force Act, which is tasked with the regulation of both commercial and private use of drones. These will include considerations of landowner rights, privacy rights, and rules for safe and lawful operation of drones.
Indiana None
Iowa None
Kansas None
Kentucky None
Louisiana La. Revised Statutes, section 3:41, et seq.: This law regulates the use of drones for agricultural purposes (monitoring, etc.); operators must be licensed and registered (renewal every three years).
Maine Sec. 1. 25 MRSA Pt. 12: Requires law enforcement agencies to obtain approval prior to acquiring drones, in addition to other rules for police use (including the requirement for a warrant when using a drone for criminal investigations).
Maryland Section 14-301: This statute establishes the state's authority to enact laws that regulate the operation of drones, preempting local authorities.
Massachusetts None
Michigan

Mich. Compiled Laws Section 324.40112: Prohibits the use of drones to harass or interfere with a hunter (charged as a misdemeanor; up to 93 days incarceration and/or up to $1,000 fine per offense).

Mich. Compiled Laws Section 324.40111c: Prohibits the use of drones to take game or fish (i.e., locating, hunting, catching, or trapping animals).

Minnesota None
Mississippi Miss. Code Section 97-29-61: Prohibits the use of drones to peep into a building for the "lewd, licentious and indecent purpose" of spying on another party (charged as a felony, up to five years prison; up to 10 years prison if the person spied on is a child 16 or younger).
Missouri None
Montana None
Nebraska None
Nevada Amendments 362, 640, and 746: Officially defines drones as "aircraft," regulating the operators of drones. The law also prohibits the use of weapons on drones and the use of drones within a specified distance of airports and other "critical" facilities, while limiting the use of drones by law enforcement.
New Hampshire RSA 207:57: Prohibits the use of drones to interfere with lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping activities.
New Jersey None
New Mexico None
New York None
North Carolina Section 7.16(e) of S.L. 2013-360: Gives the state's Chief Information Officer authority to approve (or disapprove) the operation of drones by state agencies, requires a test for the operation of drones, establishes permitting process for the commercial use of drones, conforms to federal FAA guidelines.
North Dakota North Dakota Code Sec. 29-29.4-01: Limits the use of drones for surveillance, crime investigation, and other uses by law enforcement (creates the requirement of a warrant, etc.).
Ohio None
Oklahoma None
Oregon State Fish and Wildlife Commission: Law prohibits the use of drones for fishing, hunting, or trapping, including the use of drones to locate game or to interfere with the lawful hunting, fishing, or trapping of another party.
Pennsylvania None
Rhode Island None
South Carolina None
South Dakota None
Tennessee Tenn. Code Section 39-13-903(a): Prohibits the use of drones to capture images at open-air events where 100 or more people are gathered for a ticketed event (statute specifically refers to fireworks events). The law also prohibits the use of drones over prison grounds.
Texas

Gov. Code Section 411.062: Creates the role of a director to adopt rules for the use of drones in the Capitol Complex; violation of those rules is charged as a Class B misdemeanor.

Gov. Code Section 423.002(a): Clarifies the legality of using drones to capture images by certain professionals (such as photographers), with the requirement that individuals are not identifiable in images unless they have given express permission.

Gov. Code Section 423.0045: Prohibits the use of drones over a "critical infrastructure facility," such as a chemical plant, power plant, or dam; violations are charged as a Class B misdemeanor.

Utah Utah Code Title 63G, Chapter 18: Authorizes police to use drones for data collection at testing sites and to find missing persons in areas where there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.
Vermont None
Virginia

Virginia Code Section 19.2-60.1: Requires that police obtain a warrant prior to using a drone for criminal investigations or surveillance (unless it for an Amber Alert, Senior Alert, or Blue Alert).

Executive Order No. 43: Creates a commission to regulate the procurement and use of drones within the state.

Washington None
West Virginia West Va. Code Section 20-2-5: Prohibits the use of drones for hunting, killing, or otherwise taking a wild animal.
Wisconsin None
Wyoming None

Need Help Understanding the Drone Laws in Your State?

Laws regulating the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are constantly changing as the technology develops and gains broader adoption. If you are unsure about the laws in your state or have a particular legal need with respect to drones, consider meeting with an attorney licensed to practice in your state.

FindLaw's Consumer Transactions section provides related resources.

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