Drones are considered an enjoyable toy by many and are also used in business and by the government. Whether they are used for fun or business purposes, federal and state laws regulate the use of all unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
These rules and regulations include not only the UAS but all support equipment, control stations, data links, communications, and the navigation system that are necessary for operation.
These rules will apply to you based on what type of user you are i.e.: public (governmental), model aircraft (hobby or recreational use only), or civil (non-governmental).
Some examples of public usage are for federal, state and local agencies, including law enforcement and public universities. Model Aircraft rules only apply when the UAS is flown strictly as a hobby or for recreational use. The owner or operator of a model aircraft cannot receive any money or profit in any capacity. Civil rules apply to private businesses, private universities, and private higher educational institutions.
Some UAS Operator Rules are provided in Florida Statute 934.50. The law is known as the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act. The law regulates civil, business, law enforcement, and personal use of drones. This Chapter also provides for remedies for an “aggrieved party” in a civil action against law enforcement and for injunctive relief for private individuals to prevent future violations. Punitive and compensatory damages are possible. A prevailing party in a lawsuit is entitled to attorney fees.
Evidence obtained privately or even through law enforcement in violation of Chapter 934 will not be admissible as evidence in a criminal prosecution or in any civil court of law in Florida.
Whether for fun or business, you should seek competent legal counsel to be advised of the law in this new and changing field before you embark on your first drone flight. It is a violation of law to conduct surveillance unless you fall within certain exceptions. It is also a violation to operate a UAS within five (5) miles of any airport without prior approval. There are also rules that regulate how high you can fly your UAS, and different rules if you are not in visual contact with your UAS. You can quickly and unexpectedly find yourself in trouble if you or your children operate your drone in violation of the law. Remember, as a parent you may have liability for the actions of your minor child while he or she files a drone. You could be subject to a lawsuit, fines, and even jail time. It’s no longer just for fun so seek legal counsel before you may find yourself in violation. Call our offices for a free consultation – Melbourne and Cocoa Village – 321-631-0506.