The State Of Drone Regulation

April 27, 2017
The State Of Drone Regulation

Barely a week or sometimes a day goes by without news of a new state or local drone law, but it hasn’t always been so. The earliest such attempt to regulate drones didn’t occur until 2009.

That is one of several insights from a report released today by the Center for the Study of the Drone. “Drones at Home: State and Local Drone Laws” is the first of three reports the center will release this year exploring the topic. Future reports will cover the use of drones by public safety agencies and the methods of enforcing state and local laws.

“Many of the laws that have passed have enacted statutes aimed at restricting the use of drones by law enforcement, prohibiting drones from flying over critical infrastructure, and preventing individuals from using drones to invade someone else’s privacy,” the report said. “Some of the laws have defined strict penalties for violations, including felony and misdemeanor charges and fines.”

The report includes a chart that identifies the state, city, date of enactment and description of each ordinance. Numerous links point readers toward more information.

Here are some of the historical tidbits and key statistics from the report:

  • The first local drone law in Grand Forks, N.D., banned takeoffs and landings from airports, helipads and other unauthorized locations.
  • The rate of drone regulatory activity started climbing in 2015, when 34 were enacted. Another 58 took effect in 2016.
  • The 133 local laws identified in the report apply to more than 30 million people in 31 states.
  • Most of the ordinances (127) restrict drone activities in the private sector but not by law enforcement or others in government.
  • Sixty-seven statutes regulate drone use in parks, roads and other public spaces, the most common topic of oversight.
  • Seven states have banned local drone regulation, and four others have enacted laws claiming state sovereignty over the airspace.

The center’s report adds to an existing body of work on state and local drone regulations by others. These include Drone Law Today, the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National League of Cities and drone lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht.

Update, April 6: The Center for the Study of the Drone released its second report in the “Drones at Home” series, “Public Safety Drones.”

Update, April 27: The center released its final “Drones at Home” report, “Drone Incidents: A Survey of Legal Cases.”