Is It Legal To Fly a Drone?

The drone industry is already a billion-dollar business, and it is estimated that these devices will add over 100,000 jobs to the U.S. economy within just a few short years. We see tons of models of drones available on the market today, and they will probably be one of the most popular gifts of this holiday season. Before taking to the air, it’s important to know the laws currently in place to avoid legal trouble.

General Operation Guidelines

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the agency that governs and enforces the laws regarding drones of all types in the United States. In August of this year, they passed sweeping legislation to update the rules regarding drone operation and set a standard. First, all drone pilots must be registered with the FAA for a small fee (though this may be overturned with a pending lawsuit).

Second, drones are not allowed to operate in many places, including around or over large groups of people, sporting events, or natural disasters/emergency sites. However, the legal definitions of these terms as well as “over people” are not very well-defined and to this day are being contested.

Third, you must keep your drone under 400 feet above the ground and within your line of sight to prevent a possible crash from not being able to see where your drone is. This applies even when flying in “first-person view” or “FPV” mode, which is also growing very popular.

Camera Drone Laws

Many drones are equipped with cameras to allow for aerial photography and videography on an inexpensive and easy-to-operate level. But be careful using these drones around private property, such as homes or residences.

California is the only state in the country that currently has a which prohibits flying above anyone else’s property with the intention of capturing any photo, video, audio, or other form of recording. This does not apply to public spaces where privacy cannot be reasonably expected, but shooting through the window of a home can be considered a breach of privacy.

Have you run into legal trouble from operating a drone? Because of the ambiguity of the laws and the federal nature of these offenses, it is strongly advised you seek out an experienced Modesto criminal defense attorney. At the Law Offices of Mark W. Girdner, we may be able to help. Attorney Girdner is a former Deputy District Attorney with experience in federal law. His unique insight into the thought processes of a prosecutor gives him an advantage when formulating your criminal defense that few other legal advocates can offer.

Get help with your charges today if you have been arrested for flying your drone; call the Law Offices of Mark W. Girdner today at 209.326.1533 and ask to receive a free consultation!
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