House Bill (HB) 128 chaptered on July 25, 2017 - prohibits drone use near prisons. Near is defined as a horizontal distance of 500 feet or a vertical distance of 250 feet. NCDOT will place signs marking these boundaries. The law goes into effect Dec. 1.
House Bill (HB) 337 revises existing state drone laws. The language of the law has been changed to clarify that UAS laws will now apply to model aircraft as well. This part of the law also goes into effect on Dec. 1. Model aircraft users are still exempt from the state’s permitting requirements. Other changes in the law serve to streamline North Carolina regulations with federal regulations. The minimum age for getting a commercial permit to operate UAS will now be the age federal law stipulates, which is currently 16. Additionally, people wishing to obtain a commercial permit can use any government-issued form of photo identification allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration. This section of the law became effective immediately. The revisions also loosen restrictions on the use of UAS in emergency management. The law permits emergency management agencies to use drones for all activities related to emergency management and removes the restriction on the use of special imaging technology. The use of technologies such as thermal and infrared was previously only permitted for scientific purposes. The removal of the restriction allows private and commercial operators to assist law enforcement with emergency management efforts such as search and rescue operations.
Town of Nag's Head - North Carolina - Ordinance
North Carolina General Statutes 14-7-45 - Crimes by UAS
North Carolina General Statutes 14-280.3 - Interference with manned aircraft by UAS
North Carolina General Statutes 14-401-24 - Unlawful possession and use of UAS
North Carolina General Statutes 14-401-25 - Unlawful distribution of images
Senate Bill (SB) 402 (download below) was added to Chapter SL 2013-360 on July 26, 2013.
SB 402 places a moratorium on UAS use by state and local personnel unless the use is approved by the Chief Information Officer for the Department of Transportation (CIO). Any CIO granted exception has to be reported immediately to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Information Technology and the Fiscal Research Division. The CIO may determine that there is a need to develop a UAS program within the State of North Carolina. This effort must include the CIO and the Department of Transportation Aviation Division Director.
Senate Bill (SB) 744 (download below) was added to Chapter SL 2013-360 on May 15, 2014.
SB 744 created regulations for the public, private and commercial use of UAS. The new law prohibits any entity from conducting UAS surveillance of a person or private property and also prohibits taking a photo of a person without their consent for the purpose of distributing it. The law creates a civil cause of action for those whose privacy is violated. In addition, the law authorizes different types of infrared and thermal imaging technology for certain commercial and private purposes including the evaluation of crops, mapping, scientific research and forest management. Under the law, the state Division of Aviation is required to create a knowledge and skills test for operating unmanned aircraft. All agents of the state who operate UAS must pass the Division’s knowledge and skills test. The law enables law enforcement to use UAS pursuant to a warrant, to counter an act of terrorism, to oversee public gatherings, or gather information in a public space. The bill creates several new crimes: using UAS to interfere with manned aircraft, a class H felony; possessing an unmanned aircraft with an attached weapon, a class E felony; the unlawful fishing or hunting with UAS, a class 1 misdemeanor; harassing hunters or fisherman with a UAS, a class 1 misdemeanor; unlawful distribution of images obtained with a UAS, a class 1 misdemeanor for; and operating a UAS commercially without a license, a class 1 misdemeanor. The law addresses launch and recovery sites of UAS, prohibiting their launch or recovery from any State or private property without consent. In addition the law extends the state’s current regulatory framework, administered by the chief information officer, for state use of UAS from July to December 31, 2015.
On August 25, 2015, the Governor of North Carolina signed into law Senate Bill (SB) 446, that expands the authority of the state's Chief Information Officer to approve the purchase and operation of UAS by the state and modifies the state regulation of UAS to conform to FAA guidelines.
The following document is a summary of the North Carolina regulations concerning unmanned aircraft systems, also called drones. These regulations clarify that UAS/Drones are subject to North Carolina law and do not duplicate or interfere with FAA regulations.
Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS
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