Florida's New Drone Law

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CHAPTER 2015-26 Committee Substitute for Committee Substitute for Senate Bill No. 766  An act relating to surveillance by a drone; amending s. 934.50, F.S.; defining  terms;; prohi terms prohibitin biting g a person, a state agency, or a political political subdiv subdivision ision from usiing a dron us drone e to ca capt ptur ure e an im imag age e of pr priiva vate telly ow owne ned d real eal pro rope pert rty y or of the the owner, tenant, occupant, invitee, or licensee of such property with the inte in tent nt to co cond nduc uctt su surv rvei eill llan ance ce with withou outt his his or her her wr writ itten ten co cons nsent ent if a reason rea sonabl able e expecta expectatio tion n of pri privac vacy y exists exists;; spe specif cifyin ying g whe when n a rea reason sonabl able e expectation expec tation of privacy may be presum presumed; ed; authorizi authorizing ng the use of a drone by a person or entity engaged in a business or profession licensed by the state in certain circumstanc circumstances; es; authorizi authorizing ng the use of a drone by an emplo employee yee or contractor of a property appraiser for the purpose of assessing property for ad valorem taxation; authorizing the use of a drone by or on behalf of  certain utilities for specified purposes; authorizing the use of a drone for aerial aer ial map mappin ping g und under er certai certain n cir circum cumsta stance nces; s; author authorizi izing ng the use of a drone for delivering cargo under certain circumstances; authorizing the use of a drone to owner, capture certain images invitee, under certain circumstances; providing that an tenant, occupant, or licensee may initiate a civil action for compensatory damages and may seek injunctive relief  against a person, a state agency, or a political subdivision that violates the act; providing for construction; providing for the recovery of attorney fees and punitive damages; specifying that remedies provided by the act are cumulative to other remedies; providing an effective date. Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: Sectio Sec tion n 1. 934.50 934 .50

Sectio Section n 934.5 934.50, 0, Flor Florida ida Statu Statutes tes,, is amended amended to read:

Sea Search rches es an and d sei seizur zure e usi using ng a dron drone. e.—

(1 (1)) SH SHOR ORT T TI TITL TLE. E.—This act may be cited as the   “Fre Freedo edom m fr from om Unwarranted Surveillance Act.” (2)) (2 (a)

DEFI DEFINI NITI TION ONS. S.— As used in this act, the term: Drone”  means a powered, aerial vehicle that:



Do Does es no nott ca carr rry y a hum human an o ope pera rato tor; r;


Use Usess aerodyn aerodynami amicc forc forces es to pro provid vide e vehi vehicle cle llift ift;;


Can ffly ly auton autonomo omousl usly y or be pi pilot loted ed re remot motely ely;;


Can be expen expendab dable le or recove recoverab rable; le; a and nd


Can ccarr arry y a letha lethall or no nonle nletha thall pay payloa load. d. 1 CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.


Ch. 2015-26


Ch. 2015-26

(b)   “Image” means a record of thermal, infrared, ultraviolet, visible light, or ot other her el elec ectr trom omag agnet netic ic wave waves; s; sound sound wa wave ves; s; od odor ors; s; or ot other her ph phys ysic ical al phenomena which captures conditions existing on or about real property or an individual located on that property. (c)   “Imaging device”   means a mechanical, digital, or electronic viewing  devi de vice ce;; stil stilll ca came mera ra;; camc camcor orde der; r; moti motion on pict pictur ure e ca came mera ra;; or an any y ot other her instrument, equipment, or format capable of recording, storing, or transmitting an image. (d)(b)   “Law enforcement agency”   means a lawfully established state or local public agency that is responsible for the prevention and detection of  crime, local government code enforcement, and the enforcement of penal, traffic, regulatory, game, or controlled substance laws. (e)

Surveillance”  means:


respect ct to an owner owner,, tena tenant nt,, occu occupa pant nt,, invi invitee tee,, or lice licens nsee ee of  1. With   respe priv pr ivat atel ely y ow owne ned d real real pr prop oper erty ty,, th the e ob obse serv rvat atio ion n of such such pers person onss with with suff suffic icie ient nt  visual clarity to be able to obtain information about their identity, habits, conduct, movements, or whereabouts; or 2. With rrespec espectt to pri privatel vately y owne owned d real proper property, ty, the obser observatio vation n of suc such h property’s physical improvements with sufficient visual clarity to be able to deter de termi mine ne uniqu unique e ident identif ifyi ying ng feat featur ures es or it itss oc occu cupa panc ncy y by on one e or mo more re persons. (3) PROHIB PROHIBITE ITED DU USE SE OF DRONES DRONES..— (a) A law enfor enforcem cement ent ag agenc ency y may not not use a dron drone e to gath gather er eviden evidence ce or other information. (b) A pe (b) pers rson, on, a st stat ate e ag agen ency cy,, or a poli politi tica call su subd bdiv ivis isio ion n as def defin ined ed in s. 11.45 may not use a drone equipped with an imaging device to record an image of privately owned real property or of the owner, tenant, occupant, invi in vite tee, e, or lice licens nsee ee of su such ch pr prop oper erty ty with with th the e in inte tent nt to cond conduc uctt surv survei eill llan ance ce on the individual or property captured in the image in violation of such person ’s reasonable expectation of privacy without his or her written consent. For purp pu rpos oses es of this this se sect ctio ion, n, a pe pers rson on is pr pres esum umed ed to ha have ve a re reas ason onab able le expectation of privacy on his or her privately owned real property if he or she is not observable by persons located at ground level in a place where they hav ha ve a leg ega al rig right to be be,, re reg gar ard dle less ss of whe heth ther er he or sh she e is ob obse serv rvab able le fr from om th the e air with the use of a drone. (4)) (4

EXCE EXCEPT PTIO IONS NS..—This section act does not prohibit the use of a drone:

(a) To counter counter a hig high h risk of a terr terrori orist st attack attack by a spec specifi ificc indi individ vidual ual or orga or gani niza zati tion on if th the e Un Unit ited ed St Stat ates es Se Secr creta etary ry of Home Homela land nd Se Secu curi rity ty deter determi mine ness that credible intelligence indicates that there is such a risk. 2 CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.


Ch. 2015-26


Ch. 2015-26

(b (b)) If th the e law law en enfo forc rcem emen entt ag agen ency cy firs firstt obta obtain inss a se sear arch ch warr warran antt sign signed ed by a judge authorizing the use of a drone. (c) If the law enf enforc orceme ement nt agency agency pos posses sesses ses reas reasona onable ble suspici suspicion on that, under particular circumstances, swift action is needed to prevent imminent dangerr to life or serious dange serious damage damage to prope property, rty, to forestall forestall the immine imminent nt esca escape pe of a suspect or the destruction of evidence, or to achieve purposes including, but not limited to, facilitating the search for a missing person. (d) By a pers person on or an enti entity ty eng engage aged d in a busin business ess or pr profe ofessi ssion on lic licens ensed ed by the state, or by an agent, employee, or contractor thereof, if the drone is used us ed on only ly to pe perf rfor orm m re reas ason onab able le ta task skss wi with thin in th the e scop scope e of pr prac acti tice ce or activities permitted under such person’s or entity’s license. However, this exception does not apply to a profession in which the licensee’s authorized scope of practice includes obtaining information about the identity, habits, conduct, condu ct, movements, movements, where whereabouts abouts,, affi affiliati liations, ons, associatio associations, ns, trans transactio actions, ns, reputation, or character of any society, person, or group of persons. (e) By an empl (e) employ oyee ee or a co cont ntra ract ctor or of a proper property ty app appra rais iser er who use usess a drone solely for the purpose of assessing property for ad valorem taxation. (f)

To captur capture e images images by or for an elec electri tric, c, wat water, er, or nat natura urall gas util utility ity::

1. For op operatio erations ns and maint maintenanc enance e of uti utility lity facil facilities, ities, inclu including ding ffacili acilities ties used in the generation, transmission, or distribution of electricity, gas, or water, for the purpose of maintaining utility system reliability and integrity; 2. Fo Forr in insp spect ectin ing g util utilit ity y faci facili liti ties es,, incl includ udin ing g pipe pipeli line nes, s, to de dete term rmin ine e constr con struct uction ion,, rep repair air,, mai mainten ntenanc ance, e, or rep replac laceme ement nt needs needs bef before ore,, dur during ing,, and after construction of such facilities; 3. Fo Forr asse assess ssin ing g vege vegeta tati tion on gr grow owth th fo forr the the pu purp rpos ose e of main mainta tain inin ing  g  clearances on utility rights-of-way; 4. For uti utility lity rrouting outing,, siti siting, ng, and and perm permitting itting for th the e purpose purpose of constr constructucting utility facilities or providing utility service; or 5. Fo Forr co cond nduc ucti ting ng en envi viro ronm nmen enta tall moni monito tori ring ng,, as pr prov ovid ided ed by fe fede dera ral, l, state, or local law, rule, or permit. (g (g)) For For ae aeri rial al map mappi ping ng,, if the pe pers rson on or en enti tity ty us usin ing g a dr dron one e fo forr this this purpose is operating in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations. (h) To deli deliver ver ca cargo, rgo, iiff the person person or en entity tity using using a d drone rone fo forr this p purpose urpose is operat operating ing in com compli plianc ance e wit with h Fed Federa erall Avi Aviati ation on Adm Admini inistr strati ation on reg regula ula-tions. (i) To capt capture ure im image agess neces necessar sary y for the safe opera operatio tion n or navig navigati ation on of a drone that is being used for a purpose allowed under federal or Florida law. 3 CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.


Ch. 2015-26


Ch. 2015-26

(5) REMEDI REMEDIES ES FOR VIO VIOLAT LATION ION..— (a) An agg (a) aggri riev eved ed part party y may ini niti tiat ate e a civil ivil ac acti tion on agai agains nstt a law law enforcement agency to obtain all appropriate relief in order to prevent or remedy a violation of this section act. (b) The  owner, tenant, occupant, invitee, or licensee of privately owned real re al pr prop oper erty ty ma may y init initia iate te a civi civill acti action on fo forr co comp mpen ensa sato tory ry da dama mage gess fo forr  violations of this section and may seek injunctive relief to prevent future  violations  violat ions of this section sect ion agains againstt a perso person, n, state agency, agency , or politi political cal subdiv sub divisi ision on tha thatt vio violat lates es paragr paragraph aph (3) (3)(b) (b).. In suc such h act action ion,, the prevai prevailin ling  g  party is entitled to recover reasonable attorney fees from the nonprevailing  part pa rty y ba base sed d on th the e ac actu tual al an and d re reas ason onab able le time time ex expe pend nded ed by hi hiss or her her attorney billed at an appropriate hourly rate and, in cases in which the payment of such a fee is contingent on the outcome, without a multiplier, unless the action is tried to verdict, in which case a multiplier of up to twice the th e act ctua uall va valu lue e of th the e tim time ex expe pend nded ed ma may y be awa ward rded ed in the the disc discrret etiion of the the trial court. (c) Pun Puniti itive ve damages damages for a viol violati ation on of parag paragrap raph h (3)(b) (3)(b) may be sought sought agai ag ains nstt a pe pers rson on subj subjec ectt to other other re requ quir irem ement entss an and d limi limita tati tion onss of law, law, including, but not limited to, part II of chapter 768 and case law. (d) Th (d) The e reme remedi dies es pr prov ovid ided ed for for a viol violat atio ion n of pa para rag graph raph (3)( (3)(b) b) ar are e cumulative to other existing remedies. (6 (6)) PR PROH OHIB IBIT ITIO ION N ON US USE E OF EVID EVIDEN ENCE CE..—Evi Eviden dence ce obt obtain ained ed or collected in violation of this act is not admissible as evidence in a criminal prosecution in any court of law in this state. Sectio Sec tion n 2.

This This act sshal halll take e effe ffect ct Ju July ly 1, 2015 2015..

 Approved by the Governor May 14, 2015. Filed in Office Secretary of State May 14, 2015.

4 CODING: Words stricken are deletions; words underlined are additions.

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