Frequently Asked Questions regarding UAS/Drone Laws
Public agencies can use drones but will need to have a Certificate of Authorization (COA) issued by the FAA or use an individual licensed to fly a drone under Part 107 (14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 107) of the FAA regulations as a remote pilot in command. A COA may provide substantially more flexibility to law enforcement than operation under Part 107. The FAA has published an Advisory Circular (Advisory Circular (AC) 00-1.1A, Public Aircraft Operations) regarding use of UAS by public agencies.
Several states have passed statutes restricting the right of law enforcement and other public agencies to use a UAS. States are particularly sensitive to issues related to viewing private property and require a warrant. Make sure you know your state’s law.
The FAA issued a document called “Law Enforcement Guidance for Suspected Unauthorized UAS Operations.” The FAA has also published a pocket guide that can be provided to officers to give them the basic information they need to response to a UAS call. The bottom line is that the responding officers need to investigate the incident, gather all the information they can and report the incident to the FAA.
In addition, some states have they own statutes regarding the operation of aircraft. As a UAS is an aircraft, law enforcement can use state law to support an action against a UAS violation. For example, in Florida, it is a misdemeanor operate an aircraft without a pilot license in the operator’s possession. Florida also has a statute that makes it a felony to operate an aircraft while intoxicated or in a careless or reckless manner.