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The southern state of Georgia includes some truly beloved sights, from the stunning views of Cloudland Canyon State Park to the picturesque Lake Oconee to Lookout Mountain. You’d love to explore these and other popular spots with your drone in tow, but you wonder if you can.
What are the drone laws in Georgia?
Drones are permitted in Georgia but are subject to federal, state, and local laws. The state laws prohibit drone use in state parks while the local laws keep drones out of certain cities and towns as well as densely populated areas.
Before you pack up your bags and make a beeline for Georgia, it helps to learn the drone laws here.
This guide will explain the laws on a federal, state, and local level so you’re completely clear on what you can and cannot do with your UAV in Georgia!
Federal Drone Laws in Georgia #
Federal drone laws apply throughout the United States, including in Georgia. The laws affect drone pilots of all kinds, from government employees to commercial drone pilots and recreational drone pilots.
Here are the federal drone laws in detail (that apply in Georgia as well).
Commercial Drone Pilots #
As a commercial drone pilot, federal law mandates that you always follow the drone regulations established and enforced by the Federal Aviation Administration. You can read more about the Part 107 exam and how to pass it below.
» MORE: FAA Part 107 for Commercial Drone Pilots (Step-by-Step Guide)
You’re not legally permitted to fly your drone in a commercial capacity unless you have a drone license or certificate.
These certificates are issued by the FAA after an aspiring UAV pilot passes the Part 107 exam.
The Part 107 exam is a 60-question test that quizzes you on your knowledge of FAA rules.
You’ll be asked questions about ideal flying conditions, flying in controlled airspace, operating a drone in inclement weather, and many other related questions.
On the blog, we’ve written about every online drone school under the sun with Part 107 prep so you can study up and be ready to ace the exam!
» MORE: Top 10 Best Part 107 Online Test Prep Courses
You must score at least 70 percent to pass, and then you can apply for your drone license. The license welcomes you to fly your drone commercially except where you’re prohibited.
You should always carry your license with you in case anyone asks to see it.
The license isn’t good forever, by the way. In two years from when it’s issued, you’ll have to recertify by taking the FAA exam all over again.
The exception is if you do not wish to continue flying your drone in a commercial capacity.
Recreational Drone Pilots #
The next category of drone pilots affected by federal drone laws is recreational drone pilots.
Hobbyists still have to familiarize themselves with the FAA rules and follow them.
You’ll have to register your drone with the FAA if it weighs more than 0.55 pounds. The registration fee is $5 and is good for the next three years.
If you continue using that drone three years from now, you’ll have to pay to register it again.
You might not have to take the Part 107 exam as a recreational drone pilot, but the FAA does require you to take The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST exam instead.
Every incorrect answer is displayed to you as you take the free online test. You can go back and correct your answers if you wish so you score 100 percent.
Once the FAA issues your TRUST certificate to you, you never have to worry about recertifying unless you lose the original certificate.
Agency Drone Pilots #
The third group of drone pilots subjected to federal drone laws includes firefighters, police departments, and other government employees who use UAVs in a professional capacity.
You’re yet again expected to bone up on the FAA rules as an agency drone pilot. You’ll also have to apply for a Certificate of Authorization or COA.
The COA acts as a waiver to permit drone flight in some scenarios that might not otherwise allow it.
State Drone Laws in Georgia #
Now let’s switch gears and go over Georgia’s state laws, of which there are two. The first is through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and the second is called HB 481.
Here’s an overview.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Park Rules & Regulations #
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources oversees the historic sites and state parks in Georgia, so unsurprisingly, they have park rules and regulations for drone pilots to follow.
As the law makes crystal clear, “Drone operation is prohibited in Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites.”
However, you might be able to obtain a waiver for flying your drone if yours is a professional commercial project that the Georgia Department of Natural Resources deems “may generate revenue or in other ways help promote the sites.”
You’d have to contact the Division Director and fill out a commercial film/photography request application.
The application requires you to input the times and dates you’ll use your drone, where you’ll use your drone, and why (via a project description).
You’ll also have to send in an FAA registration for your drone (your existing registration should be fine), proof of your Part 107 license, and information about yourself as a drone pilot, such as your name.
HB 481 // 2017 #
The other state drone law in Georgia is HB 481, which has been enforced since 2017. The law relates to unmanned aircraft systems (aka drones) and aviation.
According to line 18, Section (b) of HB 481:
“Any ordinance, resolution, regulation, or policy of any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state regulating the testing or operation of unmanned aircraft systems shall be deemed preempted and shall be null, void, and of no force and effect.”
Several exemptions are in place, and they are as follows:
- If a drone law was created before April 1st, 2017, then it still applies
- An ordinance that “enforces Federal Aviation Administration restrictions” also applies
HB 481 also states that the launching and landing of drones on public property are barred by both local and state governments.
Local Drone Laws in Georgia #
Finally, Georgia has a few local laws that apply to four areas of the state: State Mountain Park, Cherokee County, Augusta, and Conyers.
Let’s take a closer look at the drone laws now.
State Mountain Park – Park Ordinance // 2014 #
The park ordinance created by State Mountain Park is detailed in Section 4-113, Restrictions on Model Airplane Flying.
In Section 4-113, State Mountain Park expressly bans the usage of drones, helicopters, and airplanes “in any area of Stone Mountain Park.”
If you contact the State Mountain Park chief executive officer and are granted permission to operate your drone, that’s one exception.
Law enforcement agencies can also use drones in State Mountain Park without any special permission.
Cherokee County – Municipal Law // 2016 #
In Cherokee County, the municipal law limits drone flights to only designated areas.
City of Augusta – Municipal Law // 2016 #
In 2016, Augusta updated its municipal law with a new article on drone operation and launching.
In Article 6, Operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems/Drones, Section 1-3-44., Adoption of regulations on the launching and operation of unmanned aircraft systems., (b), the law reads:
“No person shall launch or operate any Unmanned Aircraft System, including those classified by the FAA as model aircraft, in a populated area within the limits of Richmond County, Georgia, without prior written FAA authorization, and written permission from the Augusta, Georgia Commission.”
The model aircraft field between the Horseshoe Road and Mike Padgett Highway intersection is designated as drone airspace, as is the airspace above the field.
If you disobey the rules, the municipal law states that the offense is a misdemeanor charge that could lead to fines of $1,000 or higher as well as 60 days in jail.
City of Conyers – Municipal Law // 2017 #
The last municipal law in Georgia on a local level is for the city of Conyers.
In Section 11-1-2. – Prohibition on unmanned aircraft systems at Georgia International Horse Park. The law proclaims that drone launching and landing at Georgia International Horse Park are prohibited.
Georgia Drone Law FAQs #
Do you still have a few questions about where you can fly your drone in Georgia? Allow this section to provide some enlightenment.
Can You Fly a Drone in a Georgia Public Park? #
Georgia has no shortage of beautiful parks for relaxing, strolling, keeping active, and enjoying nature.
If a town or city ordinance prohibits you from flying a drone in that city or town, that would also include its public parks. The exception is if the city or town has designated airspace for drone pilots to use.
Even then, you’d have to share the airspace with model aircraft flyers.
Should you still not be totally sure if you can fly your drone in a Georgia public park, it’s best to be extra-cautious and contact the parks and rec association.
The fines for disobeying drone laws in Georgia can be rather steep, so you don’t want to find yourself on the wrong side of the law!
Can You Fly a Drone in a Georgia State Park? #
Georgia is home to more than 50 state parks, some of which include Tallulah Gorge State Park, Vogel State Park, Fort Yargo State Park, Black Rock Mountain State Park, and Don Carter State Park.
The rules for flying a UAV in a Georgia state park are made explicitly clear. Drones are not allowed in state parks unless you have express permission.
Georgia is a wonderful state to fly a drone, but you have to steer clear of state-owned parks and some public places as well.
Now that you know the state’s drone laws in full, you can make the most of your time in Georgia!
References:Certificate of Authorization or COA (link)Park Rules & Regulations | Department Of Natural Resources Division (link)Georgia General Assembly (link)Park Ordinance (link)Municode Library (link)Municipal Law (link)Municode Library (link)