Coddington, Hicks & Danforth

What to know about California drone laws

According to Recode, nearly 800,000 drones are registered with the Federal Aviation Administration to fly in the United States. In response to the increasing number of drones in the sky, the FAA wrote a number of regulations related to the use of drones for both private and commercial use. How are these laws affecting residents of the Golden State?

FAA guidelines restrict when and where you can use a drone including airports and national parks. As the mechanisms of federalism work, California is expanding on these restrictions to fit statewide needs.

Many of the new state drone laws address privacy and disaster response. As the number of drones in use increases, so could the law related to their use. What should you know about drone law in California?

Filming is restricted

Many people use drones to capture video of landscapes, but where you film matters as much as what you film. When using a drone over private property, the owners of the property have an implied right to privacy, as the designation suggests. When filming over private property, it is important to get the land owner's permission first.

Don't interfere with an emergency

You might know that it is illegal to interfere with emergency response crews doing their job, such as hanging out on the street too close to the fire department as they put out a house fire. This same notion can be applied to the use of drones as well.

While filming an emergency response could make for harrowing footage, it is restricted by the FAA. Last year, authorities cited drone owners for filming wildfire footage in Southern California because it put firefighters at risk. Not only can the unauthorized use of a drone result in arrest, but you could also have your drone shot down or confiscated and face civil penalties for any damage caused.

Understand the law before flying

What's most important is that you understand the law before flying your drone. While operating a drone is a fun recreational activity for many, their use should not fly in the face of public safety considerations. Just as balance is necessary when flying a drone, the law seeks to do the same.

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