Drone Laws in Florida (2020)


Drone Laws in Florida

The good news is that you can fly and use drones in Florida. But the bad news is there are certain regulations and limitations you need to be careful about.

Drones are not what they once were, and by flying a drone, you can unknowingly commit a crime. This is why it is paramount to constantly stay informed of the current regulations and laws.

This article does not offer legal advice—it is intended for informational purposes and to raise awareness.

Keep in mind that laws and regulations change. New statutes can be introduced that can affect how and where you can fly a drone.

Parts—or maybe even all—of the information given below can change at some point in time. It is the responsibility of the drone operator to make sure they stay informed and adhere to the law.

 

Do You Have to Register Your Drone in Florida?

According to federal law, all drone operators are required to register their drone if it falls within certain categories.

 

Which Drones Should Be Registered?

According to the FAA, if your drone weighs 0.55 lbs (250 grams) or more, you need to register it.

  • Drones weighing between 0.55 lbs and 55 lbs (250 grams to 25 kg) can be registered online through the FAA’s website, here.
  • Drones that weigh 55 lbs (25 kg) and above have to be registered by paper.

More information on how this is done can be found on the FAA’s website, here.

Keep in mind that the weight is calculated by taking into account the weight of the drone, including any other props, accessories, cameras, etc. that can be attached to it.

This applies to everyone regardless if they are flying their drone commercially or recreationally.

 

Do You Have to Register Multiple Drones?

If you are flying as a modeler or as a hobbyist, you need only to register yourself. And you can use your registration code on multiple drones. So far, there is no information determining any limits on how many drones you can use.

However, if you are flying commercially, then you will have to register each drone that you will be operating. And label them accordingly, each with its unique registration code.

 

How to Label Your Drones?

After completing the registration process with the FAA, you will be issued a unique registration code—or codes if you will be flying multiple drones commercially.

You are required by law to place this registration code on a visible part of the drone’s body. The registration number needs to be present on the drone at all times.

The FAA allows for the registration code to be placed on the drone in three different ways; by (1) using a permanent marker, (2) a permanent label, and (3) by engraving the number.

 

How to Register a Drone in Florida?

Drone registration is carried out directly with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

There are third parties that can offer to register you with the FAA, but that is unnecessary. Registering directly with the FAA is quick, easy, and—most importantly—safe.

Depending on how you will be using your drone, there are two different types of registration:

 

Section 336

For hobbyists—or modelers, as defined by the FAA—registering under section 336 is recommended.

By registering under section 336, you are registering only yourself. You will receive a registration code that can be used on multiple drones.

To get a section 336 certificate, you need to be at least 13 years old and own a U.S. citizenship or permanent residency permit. Younger drone operators—under the age of 13—have to be accompanied by somebody else who is at least 13 years old at all times.

 

Part 107

If you are flying a drone for commercial, business, or work purposes, you need to register and meet all the requirements under part 107.

One of the crucial details when registering under part 107, is that you need to pass a test to be certified as a commercial drone pilot.

To be eligible for a part 107 certificate, you need to be 16 years old or older, be able to understand English, and be in good mental and physical health.

 

Where Can You Fly a Drone in Florida?

It is recommended to use the B4UFLY app, which can provide you with the necessary situational awareness of any restricted areas and places where you should not fly a drone thanks to the interactive map.

The app is free and can be used on both iOS and Android devices. More information can be found on the FAA’s website, here.

Additional information about any temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) can be found here.

 

Are There Unique Drone Laws in Florida?

Yes. There are some laws and regulations that have been passed by the Florida Legislature. However, there can also be local and city ordinances that you need to comply with.

 

SB 92

The SB 92 regulates and limits the use of drones by law enforcement and adds some exceptions. It also establishes that aggravated parties can pursue civil actions.

More detailed information can be found here.

 

SB 766

According to SB 766, it is illegal to capture any images of privately owned property or the occupants, owners, invitees, licensees, or tenants of a private property with the intention of conducting surveillance without their explicit consent.

More detailed information can be found here

 

HB 1027

This law reserves the right of local government to enact and enforce local ordinances and regulations in relation to illegal use of drones like harassment, voyeurism, harassment, nuisances, reckless endangerment, property damage, and more.

Additionally, the use of drones in, near, or over critical infrastructure, making contact with the critical infrastructure, people, or objects on the same premises, interfering or causing disturbance to the operations carried out on its premises are also illegal.

The possession and operation of weaponized drones is illegal as well.

More detailed information can be found here.

 

Code 5I-4.003

According to this code, it is not allowed to use any aircraft on managed lands, like Florida state parks and forests. There are some exceptions for runways and heliports.

You can find more information here.

 

Code 40C-9.320

This code also prohibits aircraft from taking off or landing on Florida District lands.

More information can be found here.

 

City of Bonita Springs, FL

According to the city ordinance limits, you are not allowed to fly a drone within 25 feet of people, buildings, power lines, light fixtures.

For recreational purposes, drones can be flown only at Community Park and only when the fields are empty.

 

City of Defuniak Springs FL

It is prohibited to use drones over public and private property unless the drone operator has received permission to do so.

When using drones for commercial work, the drone pilot is also required to register with the DFSP and notify the DFSP or the DFS-ACM at least 4 hours before the commercial work commences.

The ordinance also allows for the recreational use of drones within one’s own property at the height of no more than 500 feet.

More information can be found here.

 

City of Orlando

The city of Orlando is an excellent example of how quickly drone laws change. Orlando used to have certain specific to the city drone laws, which now are no longer in effect.

 

Lake County

It is not allowed for people to operate drones on land that is categorized as non-recreational or in areas where the drone usage is restricted.

For more information, check this link.

 

Pinellas County

The local ordinances do not allow drones to be taken off or landed on any land that is owned or managed by the county. The only exceptions are if that is done for public safety or if permission has been acquired.

More information can be found here.

 

Canaveral Port Authority

It is not allowed to fly and operate a drone on CPA premises. To do that, you need to be authorized to do so in the first place. Requests can be made by filling the application form here.

 

The University of Tampa

To use a drone on the university property, you need to follow all FAA rules and regulations as well as being pre-approved by the university to carry out such activities. More information can be found here.

 

 

What Happens If You Do Not Follow the Drone Laws in Florida

By not following the laws in Florida, you are risking committing a misdemeanor or a felony. These two are very different.

A felony is significantly more severe and includes harsher penalties.

Felony Degree Consequences
Third-degree A fine of up to $5,000 and up to 5 years of jail time
Second-degree A fine of up to $10,000 and up to 15 years of imprisonment
First-degree A fine of up to $10,000 and up to 30 years of imprisonment

 

There are two different types of misdemeanors in Florida.

Misdemeanor Degree Consequences
Second-degree A fine of up to $1,000 and p to 12 months of probation and jail time
First-degree A fine of up to $500 and 6 months of probation or 60 days of imprisonment or both

 

If first violations are usually of a second-degree misdemeanor, however, any subsequent violation is going to be categorized as a misdemeanor of the first degree.

Not registering your drone can also be a bad idea as it can lead to criminal penalties of up to $250,000 and civil penalties of up to $27,500, including up to three years of jail time.

 

Best Practices for Flying a Drone Legally in Florida

Best Practices for Flying a Drone Legally in Florida

The following are some additional regulations and recommendations that you should follow when flying a drone.

  • Follow the Florida state laws and the FAA rules and regulations at all times.
  • Do not fly your drone near people, public events, and high traffic areas.
  • Do not fly your drone near or above restricted facilities and areas. This also includes within a five-mile radius from any airport. If you are operating a drone near an airport, you need to contact the airport to get approval.
  • Do not use your drone to spy, harass, or annoy others.
  • Do not fly your drone higher than 400 feet from the surface.
  • Fly only in the Class G airspace. You need authorization if you want to fly in other types of airspace.
  • The drone should be within your visual line of sight at all times.
  • Do not fly your drone at night if it does not have appropriate lighting.
  • Keep your distance and do not fly near other aircraft.
  • It is illegal to shoot down a drone in Florida.
  • It is not allowed to fly or own a weaponized drone.
  • Do not operate your drone from a moving vehicle.
  • Do not fly your drone under the influence.

 

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