North Carolina Drone Laws
State Rules and Regulations
Federal airspace laws take precedence over state drone laws. If a state or local law directly conflicts with FAA regulations, the state or local law is likely to be invalidated.
“Unmanned aircraft” – An aircraft, as defined in G.S. 63-1, that is operated without the possibility of human intervention from within or on the aircraft and that does not meet the definition of model aircraft.
“Unmanned aircraft system” – An unmanned aircraft and associated elements, including communication links and components that control the unmanned aircraft that are required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace system.
“Model aircraft” – An aircraft, as defined in G.S. 63-1, that is mechanically driven or launched into flight and that meets all of the following requirements:
Chapter 15A – Criminal Procedure
15A-300.1 Restrictions on use of UAS
General Prohibitions. – No person, entity, or State agency shall use an unmanned aircraft system to do any of the following:
Conduct surveillance of:
Photograph an individual, without the individual’s consent, for the purpose of publishing or otherwise publicly disseminating the photograph. This subdivision shall not apply to newsgathering, newsworthy events, or events or places to which the general public is invited.
Law Enforcement Exceptions. – The use of unmanned aircraft systems by law enforcement agencies of the State or a political subdivision of the State is not prohibited in the following instances:
1. No unmanned aircraft system may be launched or recovered from any State or private property without consent.
2. A unit of local government may adopt an ordinance to regulate the use of the local government's property for the launch or recovery of unmanned aircraft systems. (2014-100, s. 34.30(a).)
(This includes state parks - North Carolina administrative code 13B.1204 prohibits drones from ascending or taking-off within or upon any state park area or state park water surface. UAS may be operated after obtaining a special activity permit from the Park.)
Prohibition. – No person, entity, or State agency shall use an unmanned aircraft system within either a horizontal distance of 500 feet, or a vertical distance of 250 feet from any local confinement facility, as defined in G.S. 153A-217, or State or federal correctional facility.
Penalty. – The following penalties apply for violations of this section:
Chapter 14 – Criminal Law
14-7.45 Crimes committed by use of UAS
All crimes committed by use of an unmanned aircraft system, as defined in G.S.15A- 300.1, while in flight over this State shall be governed by the laws of this State, and the question of whether the conduct by an unmanned aircraft system while in flight over this State constitutes a crime by the owner of the unmanned aircraft system shall be determined by the laws of this State.
Class H felony to any person who willfully damages, disrupts the operation of, or otherwise interferes with a manned aircraft through use of an unmanned aircraft system, while the manned aircraft is taking off, landing, in flight, or otherwise in motion.
It shall be a Class E felony for any person to possess or use an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system that has a weapon attached.
It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to fish or to hunt using an unmanned aircraft system.
It is a Class A1 misdemeanor to publish or disseminate images taken through the use of infrared or other thermal imaging technology attached to an unmanned aircraft system revealing individuals, materials, or activities inside of a structure without the consent of the property owner.
Chapter 113 – Conservation and Development
113-295 Unlawful harassment of persons taking wildlife resources
Chapter 63 – Aeronautics
This chapter does not apply to “model aircrafts.”
63-95 Training required for operations of UAS
§63-96 License required for commercial operation of UAS