What You Need to Know Before Flying Your Drone

By KevinMarcilliat, In Criminal Defense, 0 Comments

As of January 2021, there are almost 1.8 million drones registered in the United States. Of those drones, 71% of registrations were for recreational purposes. As technology continues to advance, making drones more affordable than ever, the number of hobbyist drones is sure to only increase.

While many will not think twice before taking their new Christmas present out for a spin at the park, a number of federal and state regulations govern what you can and cannot do with your new gift. Be sure to review the following summary of regulations, as noncompliance can result in criminal charges.

Federal Regulations

Section 349 of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 provides the federal regulations that recreational drone operators must follow. The following list is just a handful of the regulations that apply.

  • Any drone weighing between .55 and 55 pounds must be registered with the FAA
  • The drone must be operation only within the visual line of sight of either the operator or a visual observer communicating with the drone operator
  • Drone operators must pass an online aeronautical knowledge and safety test and carry proof of test passage
  • The drone must only be flown during daylight unless the drone is equipped with anti-collision lights and the operator has completed required testing
  • The drone must be flown at or below 400 feet about the ground when in uncontrolled airspace
  • The drone may not operate over any persons unless the drone weights less than .55 pounds and contains no exposed rotating parts

In 2019, nearly 1.3 million drones were registered in the United States, but there were only 116,000 registered drone operators. Yet, a person who fails to register their drone faces federal criminal implications, including three years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000.

State Regulations

In addition to federal regulations, North Carolina imposes additional prohibitions on drone operators. North Carolina General Statute § 15A-300.1 specifically prohibits

· Using a drone to conduct surveillance of a person or a dwelling occupied by a person without that person’s consent

· Using a drone to conduct surveillance of private real property with consent of the owner or lessee of the property

· Using a drone to photograph an individual, without the individual’s consent, for the purpose of publishing or otherwise publicly disseminating the photograph

A violation of one or more of the above may results in criminal charges; specifically, a Class A1 misdemeanor, the highest-level misdemeanor in our state.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a violation of either federal or state regulations, the attorneys at Marcilliat & Mills PLLC are prepared to help and offer free consultations. You can contact us online or at (877) 204-5365.