State Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) | 2019 Legislation

3/5/2020

Unmanned aircraft system.

Introduction 

In 2019, at least 18 states—Alaska, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington—enacted 22 bills addressing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).  

UAS map of state laws.

  • Seven states—Alaska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Washington—established UAS programs or appropriated funds.
  • Six states—Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee— prohibited UAS flying over property, including correctional and other facilities for utilities, defense, telecommunications and railroads.
  • Three states—California, Indiana and Tennessee—added UAS-related privacy protections.
  • Three states—Hawaii, Montana and Virginia—specified instances in which evidence obtained from UAS may be used and in which UAS may be used by law enforcement. 
  • One state—New Jersey—prohibited UAS from delivering medical marijuana. 
2019 UAS Enacted Legislation

State

Session Law

Summary

Alaska

2019 Alaska Sess. Laws, Ch. 2

  • Appropriates $1.2 million to higher education institutions for a Juneau Readiness Center and Unmanned Aerial System Joint Facility.

Arkansas

2019 Ark. Acts, Act 508

  • Adds a “railroad operating facility” to the areas where UAS may not operate.

2019 Ark. Acts, Act 1000

  • Adds a “communication tower or facility” to the areas where UAS may not operate.

California

2019 Cal. Stats., Ch. 749

  • Makes it a misdemeanor offense to operate UAS for the purpose of invading the privacy of a person inside their home or any other interior area where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Delaware

Vol. 82, Del. Laws, Ch. 190

  • Makes it a felony offense to operate UAS over a correctional facility to deliver prison contraband.

Georgia

2019 Ga. Laws, Ch. 67

  • Prohibits UAS from delivering or attempting to deliver contraband to a correctional facility.
  • Prohibits UAS from photographing any place of incarceration without prior permission.

Hawaii

2019 Hawaii Sess. Laws, Act 248

  • Provides that recordings obtained from UAS to show the commission of an offense related to setting off fireworks or other aerial devices shall be exempt from the requirement of authentication by one or more witnesses.

Indiana

2019 Ind. Acts, P.L. 136

  • Prohibits UAS over private property or to conduct surveillance.

Kentucky

2019 Ky. Acts,

Ch. 61

  • Prohibits UAS over a correctional facility or to deliver contraband.

Michigan

2019 Mich. Pub. Acts, Ch. 32

  • Allows a political subdivision that prohibits the operation of nonemergency motor vehicles to enact and enforce an ordinance, regulation or resolution, under certain circumstances, to prohibit the knowing and intentional operation of UAS in a manner that interferes with the safe use of a horse in certain commercial activities.

Montana

2019 Mont. Laws, Ch. 178

  • Specifies that information obtained from UAS is admissible as evidence during the investigation of a motor vehicle crash scene on a public roadway.

Nevada

2019 Nev. Stats., Ch. 551

  • Directs the Office of Economic Development to establish a UAS program, including UAS registration.
  • Authorizes the program to provide training, conduct testing and develop safety guidelines.

New Jersey

2019 N.J. Laws, Ch. 150

  • Appropriates $500,000 to the Department of Transportation for its UAS program.

2019 N.J. Laws, Ch. 153

  • Prohibits UAS from transferring or delivering medical cannabis.

North Carolina

2019 N.C. Sess. Laws, Ch. 231

  • Appropriates $4 million to the Department of Transportation for the purchase of UAS equipment, including aircraft systems, mobile command systems and technology.

Ohio

Vol. 10, 2019 Ohio Laws, HB 166

  • Appropriates $125,000 annually to support the expansion of an unmanned aviation STEM program for high school students.

Oregon

2019 Or. Laws, Ch. 337

  • Makes it a misdemeanor offense to operate UAS to direct a laser at an aircraft, crash into aircraft, or prevent takeoff or landing of an aircraft.
  • Directs the Department of Aviation (department) to adopt rules maintaining records of an educational institution’s use of UAS, including registration.
  • States that the department shall not charge UAS registration fees to educational institutions.

Tennessee

2019 Tenn. Pub. Acts, Ch. 40

  • Prohibits UAS to intentionally capture an image of an individual or event or to drop any item or substance into an open-air event where more than 100 people are gathered unless prior consent is obtained from the venue owner.

2019 Tenn. Pub. Acts, Ch. 60

  • Prohibits UAS over a correctional facility.
  • Makes it a felony offense, rather than a misdemeanor, to operate UAS over a “critical infrastructure facility.” For example, electrical systems, petroleum refineries, certain manufacturing facilities, chemical storage facilities, water treatment facilities, utilities transmission infrastructure and railroads.

Virginia

2019 Va. Acts, Ch. 612

  • Makes it a misdemeanor offense to take off or land in violation of current Federal Aviation Administration Special Security Instructions or UAS Security Sensitive Airspace Restrictions (e.g., military and defense facilities).

2019 Va. Acts, Ch. 781

  • Allows UAS to be operated by law enforcement to survey the residence of a person subject to an arrest warrant, or to locate a person that has fled law enforcement and the officer is in active pursuit.

Washington

2019 Wash. Laws, Ch. 415

  • Appropriates $300,000 to develop a UAS program at a local college. 

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