Florida Drone Laws: What You Need to Know

  • Aug 25 2019

With the holidays near, drones may be on many people’s wish lists. Before purchasing or operating drones, it is important to understand the federal and state drone laws. Violating drone laws can result in serious penalties. Our Florida drone law attorney assists individuals who are facing criminal charges for operating a drone.

Can I Get Into Trouble Flying A Drone in Florida?

Yes, you can get into trouble for flying a drone (unmanned aerial system or UAS) in Florida if you do not follow federal and state rules for operating a drone. Ignorance of the laws is not an excuse or a defense to criminal charges for breaking drone laws. 

Flying drones are legal in Florida. However, there are some restrictions for operating drones. The offenses range from misdemeanors to felonies. In many cases, you must look to other criminal statutes and apply them to the use of a drone to commit the crime. 

Some important things to remember about operating drones in Florida include:

  • Recreational operators need to register their drones with the FAA. If you use a drone for work or business purposes, there are special FAA requirements, including an FAA Aeronautical Knowledge Test – also known as a Part 107.
  • Recreational drone operators do not need a license, but they do need to pass a skills test and carry proof of passing the test with them when operating the drone.
  • You must carry proof of registration and place the registration number on the outside of the drone.
  • Drones cannot be flown over stadiums, groups of people, or public events (or anyone who does not consent to have it flown over them).
  • Drones should be flown under 400 feet in most airspaces.
  • Never fly drones in controlled airspaces, including near airports, sporting events, stadiums, restricted airspace, and Washington, D.C.
  • Do not fly drones over or near accident sites or other areas in which first responders are working. 
  • Never operate a drone under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • It is illegal to weaponize a drone or use a drone to capture images of private property or people on private property. 
  • Using a drone to stalk someone violates Florida’s anti-stalking laws.
  • Moving drugs with a drone is illegal and could result in a first-degree felony.
  • Hitting someone or threatening to hit someone can result in assault or battery charges.
  • Flying drones over a critical infrastructure facility is against the law. These facilities include but are not limited to, correctional facilities, natural gas storage facility, chemical manufacturing facility, wireless communications facility, aboveground gas pipelines, and mining facilities.

The FAA has an app for recreational drone operators that can help identify restricted areas. More information about drones can be found on the FAA website.

Defending Criminal Charges for Violating Drone Laws

A simple mistake or error could result in a serious criminal charge. You do not need to set out to intentionally break the law to be found guilty. A guilty verdict could result in fines, jail time, and other punishments, depending on the crime and any aggravating circumstances related to the crime. 

Even though it may be tempting to plead guilty to a drone violation, pleading guilty to any crime without consulting with a criminal defense lawyer can have serious negative consequences in the future. It is always wise to seek legal counsel whenever you are facing criminal charges, even if the charges are misdemeanors with relatively minor punishments for a conviction.

Contact a Florida Drone Law Attorney if You Have Questions

Drone laws can be complicated. Additionally, some criminal laws (i.e. assault) can apply in a drone case. Talk to a Florida drone law attorney as soon as possible if you are charged with a drone crime.

Posted in: Drone Law