Is It Legal to Fly a Drone?
Drone flying is a trending hobby, and there's a lot of fun to be had. However, did you know you can't just fly a drone right out of the box without considering some laws and regulations?
You don't need a license to fly a drone for hobby or recreation purposes, as long as you stay well within the metaphorical recreational flying lane. That means not flying your drone for any monetary purposes — even as a side business in the gig economy — and keeping it out of restricted airspace.
If you do intend to use your drone to make money or perform commercial activities, you'll need a license. You'll need to apply for and receive a Remote Pilot Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. The requirements for this certification include being 16 years old or older, being able to communicate orally and in writing in English and passing the Unmanned Aircraft General - Small (UAG) exam. You'll also need to complete online training every two years to maintain your certificate.
The laws and regulations discussed in this article don't typically apply to small toy drones meant to fly around your home or within the confines of your backyard. These types of drones, which are often sold in the toy aisle of department and big box stores, are marketed to kids as toys to play with.
However, if you have a recreational drone capable of more than hovering a few feet away from you or zipping around your living room, you may need to consider some regulations related to flying it.
Commercial and recreational drones of this type must be registered with the FAA via the FAADroneZone site. When flying your drone outside, you must keep it within sight — it's not legal to fly a recreational drone so far away that you can't tell where it is.
In most cases, consumer drones — those used both recreationally and commercially — can only fly legally up to about 400 feet.
Drones can also only be legally flown in Class G airspace. If you want to fly in airspace of any other classification, you must obtain special permission or licensing. Typically, airspace below 14,500 feet above average sea level is considered Class G airspace, so if you're maintaining the 400-foot rule, you should be safe. However, any airspace near an airport, government facility or other specific property types may be classified differently. It's also important to know exactly where you're flying a drone and be aware of any rules that might impact it.
More Related Articles:
- When Do You Need a Lawyer? Determine If You Need to Hire an Attorney
- What Is a Class-Action Lawsuit?
- What Is a Misdemeanor?
- What to Do After a Car Accident
- What Is Power of Attorney?
When you're flying a drone, you have a duty to attend to reasonable caution to ensure you don't cause any accidents or property damage. That means flying the drone carefully and never at excess speeds. You should avoid flying too close to people, vehicles and property. You should never fly near any other aircraft or near emergency response efforts. You also should never operate a drone from a moving vehicle.
Many drones are equipped with cameras, and that's part of the fun of using them. You can get gorgeous aerial shots or see views you wouldn't otherwise be able to. However, it's important to consider other people's rights to privacy when using your drone in this manner.
If you're gathering footage in a public location, such as a park or hiking area, and you capture someone else on your feed, this is likely okay. There's no real expectation of privacy in such public areas. However, you certainly can't use your drone to trespass on another person's property and capture images of them. This is akin to being a peeping Tom or spying on your neighbor, and if you're caught, you could face criminal charges in the matter. As a drone operator, you must comply with all the privacy laws governing your area, which could include federal and state laws.
Elocal Editorial Content is for educational and entertainment purposes only. The information provided on this site is not legal advice, and no attorney-client or confidential relationship is formed by use of the Editorial Content. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options or strategies. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the eLocal Editorial Team and other third-party content providers do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of eLocal or its affiliate companies. Use of the Blog is subject to theWebsite Terms and Conditions.
The eLocal Editorial Team operates independently of eLocal USA's marketing and sales decisions.