A Guide to State Laws Impacting UAS/UAV Operations: A Resource for Recreational, Non-Recreational and Commercial Drone Operators

As private interest in drones has exploded, state legislatures have also demonstrated a significant interest in regulations on the topic. At last look, there are over 750 introduced or enacted laws where “autonomous aerial system”, “autonomous aerial vehicle”, or “drone” are mentioned in the text. A number of these proposed laws impact law enforcement’s use of UAS/UAV technology and, thus, do not impact non-government drone operation.

Rather than wholesale regulations, states have enacted patch works of legislation impacting drone operations. One can only assume the patchwork is the result either of specific instances where operators flew drones in an irresponsible manner or the result of very specific concerns.

There is very little uniformity with the legislation states are enacting relating to drone operations. With the lack of uniformity comes a degree of uncertainty—operators cannot know all the laws that apply in specific jurisdictions. This lack of predictability and uniformity will hamper drone operations in a state. Predictable and uniform laws, on the other hand, will encourage innovation, expand drone operations and applications in a state and protect bystanders.

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