South Dakota 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. 


Drone” means a powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, and can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely. The vehicle may be expendable or recoverable.


22-21-1.  - Trespassing to eavesdrop–Installation or use of unauthorized eavesdropping device–Drones.

Any person who, except as authorized by law:

  1. Trespasses on property with intent to subject anyone to eavesdropping or other surveillance in a private place;
  2. Installs in any private place, without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy there, any device for observing, photographing, recording, amplifying, or broadcasting sounds or events in such place, or uses any such unauthorized installation;
  3. Intentionally uses a drone to photograph, record, or otherwise observe another person in a private place where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy; or
  4. Lands a drone on the lands or waters of another resident provided the resident owns the land beneath the water body in its entirety without the owner’s consent, except in the case of forced landing and the owner or lessee of the drone will be liable for any damage resulting from a forced landing;

is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Subdivisions (2) and (3) do not apply to law enforcement officers, or to those acting under the direction of a law enforcement officer, while engaged in the performance of the officer’s lawful duties. These restrictions do not apply to a drone operator operating a drone for commercial or agricultural purposes pursuant to or in compliance with federal aviation administration regulations, authorizations, and exemptions nor do they apply to an emergency management worker operating a drone within the scope of the worker’s duties.


50-11-9.1. - Certain unmanned aircraft exempt from registration.

Exempts UAS that weigh less than 55 pounds from aircraft registration requirements.


50-15-1.  - Drone defined.


50-15-2.  Compliance with federal requirements–Exemption from chapter.

Any operation of a drone in the state shall comply with all applicable federal aviation administration requirements. Any drone operating under the authority of the Armed Forces of the United States, including the National Guard, is exempt from this chapter.


50-15-3. - Authorization required to operate drone over certain facilities–Violation as misdemeanor.

No person may operate a drone over the grounds of a prison, correctional facility, jail, juvenile detention facility, or any military facility unless expressly authorized by the administrator thereof. A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.


50-15-4.- Prohibited delivery of contraband or controlled substance–Felony.

Any person who uses a drone to deliver contraband or controlled substances to a state prison or other correctional facility is guilty of a Class 6 felony in addition to the penalty for the principal offense.