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Is It Illegal To Fly A Drone Over Someone Else’s Property In Virginia?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2024 | Uncategorized

Drones are unmanned aircraft that can be used to take beautiful pictures and monitor areas that would be difficult to watch otherwise. For those who are in Virginia – which is so close to the nation’s capital that it tends to employ stricter-than-average security measures under many circumstances – understanding the laws surrounding may be wise.

The legality of flying a drone over someone else’s property in Virginia depends on specific circumstances outlined in state law. Virginia statutes set clear boundaries that address the operation of drones based on privacy, safety and property rights.

Drone flights are limited in Virginia

Under Virginia law, intentionally operating a drone in ways that infringe on another person’s property and privacy is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This includes flying a drone within 50 feet of a dwelling without consent. This is especially true if the flight intends to coerce, intimidate or harass another person.

The law also prohibits drone operations that involve:

  • Taking off or landing in areas restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) due to security concerns
  • Dropping items within property boundaries
  • Capturing images of identifiable individuals in correctional or juvenile facilities

However, there are exceptions to these prohibitions. Operating a drone over someone else’s property may not be considered illegal if the drone operator has received consent from someone with the legal authority to give such permission or from a person lawfully present on the property.

Another exception is if federal regulations authorize the operator to operate the drone. In this case, they must do so in a manner that is lawful and consistent with all applicable regulations.

Illegal drone flights can lead to criminal charges

Violating Virginia’s drone laws by flying over someone’s property without consent and for prohibited purposes can lead to significant legal consequences, including misdemeanor charges. Drone operators must be mindful of the privacy and property rights of others, ensuring their activities don’t cross the boundaries of legality.

Working with a legal representative who understands these legalities and defense options may help defendants determine how best to proceed.