Oregon UAS Laws

  
 
Note on Federal vs State Laws:

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. 

 

Definitions:

Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned flying machine, commonly known as a drone, and its associated elements, including communication links and the components that control the machine.

 
 
Statutes/Bills:

837.310 Restrictions; exceptions.

Except as otherwise provided in ORS 837.310 to 837.345, a law enforcement agency may not operate an unmanned aircraft system, acquire information through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system or disclose information acquired through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system.

 

Oregon law enforcement may only use a drone under one or more of the following circumstances: they obtain a written warrant that specifies the period of use of the drone which cannot exceed 30 days, they reasonably believe that exigent circumstances exist in the commitment of a crime making it unreasonable to wait for a warrant, they have written consent

from the individual whose property is being searched, they are using the drone solely for training purposes, or if they intend to use the drone to conduct search and rescue operations during a time of emergency.

 

837.320 Authorized use upon issuance of warrant; exigent circumstances.

  1. A law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system, acquire information through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, or disclose information acquired through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, if:

(a) A warrant is issued authorizing use of an unmanned aircraft system; or

(b) The law enforcement agency has probable cause to believe that a person has committed a crime, is committing a crime or is about to commit a crime, and exigent circumstances exist that make it unreasonable for the law enforcement agency to obtain a warrant authorizing use of an unmanned aircraft system.

 
A warrant authorizing the use of an unmanned aircraft system must specify the period for which operation of the unmanned aircraft system is authorized. In no event may a warrant provide for the operation of an unmanned aircraft system for a period of more than 30 days. Upon motion and good cause shown, a court may renew a warrant after the expiration of the 30-day period. [2013 c.686 §3; 2015 c.315 §3]
 

837.330 Written consent.

A law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system for the purpose of acquiring information about an individual, or about the individual’s property, if the individual has given written consent to the use of an unmanned aircraft system for those purposes. [2013 c.686 §4; 2015 c.315 §4]

 

837.335 Search and rescue; use in emergencies.

A law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system for the purpose of search and rescue activities, assisting an individual in an emergency, and during a state of emergency that is declared by the Governor.

 

837.340 Criminal investigations.

A law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system, acquire information through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, or disclose information acquired through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system, for the purpose of reconstruction of a specific crime scene or accident scene, or similar physical assessment, related to a specific criminal investigation.

 

837.345 Training.

A law enforcement agency may operate an unmanned aircraft system for training purposes.

 

837.360 Restrictions; civil penalties; registration; fees; rules.

  1. A public body may not operate an unmanned aircraft system in the airspace over this state without registering the unmanned aircraft system with the Oregon Department of Aviation.
  2. The Oregon Department of Aviation may impose a civil penalty of up to $10,000 against a public body that violates subsection (1) of this section.
  3. Evidence obtained by a public body through the use of an unmanned aircraft system in violation of subsection (1) of this section is not admissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding and may not be used to establish reasonable suspicion or probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed.
  4. The Oregon Department of Aviation shall establish a registry of unmanned aircraft systems operated by public bodies and may charge a fee sufficient to reimburse the department for the maintenance of the registry.
  5. The Oregon Department of Aviation shall require the following information for registration of an unmanned aircraft system:

(a) The name of the public body that owns or operates the unmanned aircraft system.

(b) The name and contact information of the individuals who operate the unmanned aircraft system.

(c) Identifying information for the unmanned aircraft system as required by the department by rule.

2. A public body that registers one or more unmanned aircraft systems under this section shall provide an annual report to the Oregon Department of Aviation that:

(a) Summarizes the frequency of use of the unmanned aircraft systems by the public body during the preceding calendar year;

(b) Summarizes the purposes for which the unmanned aircraft systems have been used by the public body during the preceding calendar year; and

(c) Indicates how the public can access the policies and procedures established under section 7 of this 2016 Act.

3. The State Aviation Board may adopt all rules necessary for the registration of unmanned aircraft systems in Oregon that are consistent with federal laws and regulations.

Section 9 of HB4066 said:

  1. Section 7 of this 2016 Act and the amendments to ORS 837.360 by section 8 of this 2016 Act become operative on January 1, 2017.
  2. A public body may take any action before the operative date specified in subsection (1) of this section that is necessary to enable the public body to exercise, on and after the operative date specified in subsection (1) of this section, all the duties, functions and powers conferred on the public body by section 7 of this 2016 Act and the amendments to ORS 837.360 by section 8 of this 2016 Act.
 

837.365 Weaponized unmanned aircraft systems.

A person may not intentionally, knowingly or recklessly operate or cause to be operated an unmanned aircraft system that is capable of firing a bullet or projectile or otherwise operate or cause to be operated an unmanned aircraft system in a manner that causes the system to function as a dangerous weapon as defined in ORS 161.015

 

Violations are either a class B or C felony depending on whether the action resulted in the drone causing physical injury to another person.

 

Rule does not apply if:

  1. The person uses the unmanned aircraft system to release, discharge, propel or eject a nonlethal projectile for purposes other than to injure or kill persons or animals;
  2. The person uses the unmanned aircraft system for nonrecreational purposes in compliance with specific authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration;
  3. The person notifies the Oregon Department of Aviation, the Oregon State Police and any other agency that issues a permit or license for the activity requiring the use of the unmanned aircraft system of the time and location at which the person intends to use an unmanned aircraft system that is capable of releasing, discharging, propelling or ejecting a projectile at least five days before the person uses the system;
  4. If the person intends to use an unmanned aircraft system that is capable of releasing, discharging, propelling or ejecting a projectile in an area open to the public, the person provides reasonable notice to the public of the time and location at which the person intends to use the unmanned aircraft system; and
  5. The person maintains a liability insurance policy in an amount not less than $1 million that covers injury resulting from use of the unmanned aircraft system.
 

837.374 Reckless Interference with aircraft.

1. A person commits a Class A violation if the person possesses or controls an unmanned aircraft system and recklessly causes the unmanned aircraft system to:

a. Direct a laser at an aircraft while the aircraft is in the air;

b. Crash into an aircraft while the aircraft is in the air; or

c. Prevent the takeoff or landing of an aircraft

2. A person commits a Class A misdemeanor if the person possesses or controls an unmanned aircraft system and knowingly or intentionally causes the unmanned aircraft system to:

a. Direct a laser at an aircraft while the aircraft is in the air;

b. Crash into an aircraft while the aircraft is in the air; or

c. Prevent the takeoff or landing of an aircraft.

3. Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, a person commits a Class A misdemeanor if the person violates subsection (1) of this section and the person has one or more convictions under subsection (1) of this section at the time of the offense.

4. In addition to and not in lieu of any other sentence the court may impose, upon a person’s second or subsequent conviction under this section, the court shall, at the time of sentencing, declare the unmanned aircraft system used in the offense to be contraband and order that the unmanned aircraft system be forfeited. [2016 c.72 §5; 2019 c.337 §1]


837.375 Interference with an unmanned aircraft system; unauthorized control.

In addition to any other remedies allowed by law, a person who intentionally interferes with, or gains unauthorized control over, an unmanned aircraft system licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, or operated by the Armed Forces of the United States as defined in ORS 352.313, an agency of the United States or a federal, state or local law enforcement agency, is liable to the owner of the unmanned aircraft system in an amount of not less than $5,000. The court shall award reasonable attorney fees to a prevailing plaintiff in an action under this section.

 

837.380 Owners of real property; Attorney General.

Oregon statutes forbid any person from flying a drone over another’s property multiple times, as long as the drone has been flown over the property at least once and the property owner notified the drone operator or owner that they did not want the drone flown over property. However,

the property owner has no cause of action if the drone is taking off or landing, or is lawfully in the flight path of an airport or runway. If the property owner brings a cause of action and prevails, they may recover treble damages and attorneys’ fees.

 

837.385 Preemption of local laws regulating unmanned aircraft systems.

Except as expressly authorized by state statute, the authority to regulate the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft systems is vested solely in the Legislative Assembly. Except as expressly authorized by state statute, a local government, as defined ORS 174.116, may not enact an ordinance or resolution that regulates the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft systems or otherwise engage in the regulation of the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft systems.

 

837.995 Crimes involving unmanned aircraft systems; penalties.

  1. A person commits a Class A felony if the person possesses or controls an unmanned aircraft system and intentionally causes, or attempts to cause, the unmanned aircraft system to:

(a) Fire a bullet or other projectile at an aircraft while the aircraft is in the air;

(b) Direct a laser at an aircraft while the aircraft is in the air; or

(c) Crash into an aircraft while the aircraft is in the air.

2. A person who intentionally interferes with, or gains unauthorized control over, an unmanned aircraft system licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration, or operated by the Armed Forces of the United States as defined in ORS 352.313, an agency of the United States or a federal, state or local law enforcement agency, commits a Class C felony.

 

HB 4066 Critical Infrastructure Facility (Passed as law but waiting on location to where it is to be added between 837.300-390)

Critical infrastructure facility” means any of the following facilities, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders, or if marked with a sign conspicuously posted on the property that indicates that entry is forbidden:

  1. A petroleum or alumina refinery;
  2. An electrical power generating facility, substation, switching station or electrical control center;
  3. A chemical, polymer or rubber manufacturing facility;
  4. A water intake structure, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant or pump station;
  5. A natural gas compressor station;
  6. A liquid natural gas terminal or storage facility;
  7. A telecommunications central switching office;
  8. A port, railroad switching yard, trucking terminal or other freight transportation facility;
  9. A gas processing plant, including a plant used in the processing, treatment or fractionation of natural gas;
  10. A transmission facility used by a federally licensed radio or television station;
  11. A steelmaking facility that uses an electric arc furnace to make steel;
  12. A dam that is classified as a high hazard by the Water Resources Department;
  13. Any portion of an aboveground oil, gas or chemical pipeline that is enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders; or
  14. A correctional facility or law enforcement facility.
 

A person commits a Class A violation if the person intentionally or knowingly:

  1. Operates an unmanned aircraft system over a critical infrastructure facility at an altitude not higher than 400 feet above ground level; or
  2. Allows an unmanned aircraft system to make contact with a critical infrastructure facility, including any person or object on the premises of or within the facility.
 

Violations do not apply to:

  1. The federal government.
  2. A public body.
  3. A law enforcement agency.
  4. A person under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of the federal government, a public body or a law enforcement agency.
  5. An owner or operator of the critical infrastructure facility.
  6. A person who has the prior written consent of the owner or operator of the critical infrastructure facility.
  7. The owner or occupant of the property on which the critical infrastructure facility is located.
  8. A person who has the prior written consent of the owner or occupant of the property on which the critical infrastructure facility is located.
  9. A person operating an unmanned aircraft system for commercial purposes in compliance with authorization granted by the Federal Aviation Administration.
 

498.128 Use of drones for pursuit of wildlife prohibited

The State Fish and Wildlife Commission shall adopt rules prohibiting the use of drones for the following purposes related to the pursuit of wildlife:

  1. Angling;
  2. Hunting;
  3. Trapping;
  4. Aiding angling, hunting or trapping through the use of drones to harass, track, locate or scout wildlife; and
  5. Interfering in the acts of a person who is lawfully angling, hunting or trapping.


Oregon Aviation Regulations Chapter 738

Purpose and Statutory Authority:

To regulate the registration of aircraft and UAS in Oregon

738-080-0015 Definitions

738-080-0020 Exemption from Aircraft and UAS Registration Fee

738-080-0030 Temporary Exemption from Registration of Manned Aircraft

738-080-0045 Public Agency Registration of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS)