Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College demonstrates that over 30 million people in the US are affected by state and local drone ordinances. Local drone laws create a serious problem for the drone industry and commercial operators, who face additional administrative burden to discover and comply with local regulations which may severely limit commercial applications.
The research, written by Arthur Holland Michel and titled “Drones at Home: Local and State Drone Laws” is a comprehensive look at the increasingly complex landscape of drone regulations on a state and local level. Michel finds that 135 localities in 31 states have enacted drone laws. While local laws seems to focus on restricting flight over public and private property, state statutes tend also to restrict flight over infrastructure.
Commonly Restricted Behaviors
- Operations over public property
- Operations over private property without the owner’s consent
- Operation in parks
- Operations at large events
- Invasion of privacy and surveillance
- Impaired operations
The paper points out that many of the local laws appear to directly contravene the FAA’s stated position on preemption, published last year in a Fact Sheet, and may be subject to lawsuits. But the source of the problem, the paper finds, is that local governments simply don’t trust the FAA’s regulations: “It appears that the adoption of these rules is largely motivated by a sense that the FAA’s regulations are not comprehensive and strict enough to prevent potential abuses of the technology,” says the paper.
Michel says that the problem of state and local laws is increasing, rather than decreasing: “The rate of new ordinances does not appear to be slowing,” says Michel. “We have observed that news stories about municipalities that are considering new ordinances appear with frequency.”
Drone operators interested in learning more about their own local regulations can look at the reference table at the conclusion of the paper, but should also contact their local law enforcement or legislative resources.