Drones, or Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA originally required that all sUAS pilots, whether flying as a hobbyist, or commercially, must register drones before they are flown in U.S. airspace. A U.S. district court struck down this requirement for any drone that is flown as a “model aircraft” in Taylor v. Huerta. The impact of this change was that the majority of pilots not flying for compensation were no longer required to register.
This changed on December 12, 2017 when the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 became law. Section 1092 of this Act reinstates the original FAA rule and requires all users to register.*
If you’re going to fly your drone, and it qualifies as a model aircraft – outlined here – the FAA is not allowed to regulate that flight EXCEPT FOR the reinstated registration requirement.
Anyone who is not registered, should spend the $5 and comply with the FAA registration requirement, as the reinstatement date was the date the bill went into effect on December 12, 2017. Then you just need to make sure you comply with the appropriate rules, depending on whether you are flying as hobbyist, or commercially The final step is to make sure you follow the laws in your state, many states have drone regulations in place which further control business uses.
If you have any questions about how to legally fly a drone in your state, contact a qualified attorney who can help you. Our attorneys are experienced in Florida law, and can answer questions on how to safely fly drones in any other state. If you have any issues and you’re arrested or cited by law enforcement then you need an attorney who will work hard to defend your rights. If you are cited by the FAA for unlawful sUAS use, it is highly advised to consult with an attorney before addressing the citation. Call our office any time at 850/681-7777 to set a free consultation.
* Sect. 1092. COLLABORATION BETWEEN FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION AND DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ON UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS.
“(d) Restoration Of Rules For Registration And Marking Of Unmanned Aircraft.—The rules adopted by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration in the matter of registration and marking requirements for small unmanned aircraft (FAA-2015-7396; published on December 16, 2015) that were vacated by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Taylor v. Huerta (No. 15-1495; decided on May 19, 2017) shall be restored to effect on the date of enactment of this Act.”
Blog Written By:
J Brent Marshall, Florida State University College of Law and Pumphrey Law, Law Clerk
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.
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