Can I Get In Trouble Using a Drone?

Drones are more and more common now. But you could land in trouble for using them the wrong way.

What Exactly is a Drone?

The legal name for drones is “unmanned aircraft.” An unmanned aircraft is defined as aircraft flown by a remote pilot via a ground control system, or autonomously through use of an on-board computer, communication links, and any additional equipment that is necessary for the unmanned aircraft to operate safely. MCL 259.303

How Can I Get in Trouble With a Drone?

A person may not use a drone to knowingly and intentionally interfere with the official duties of either a police officer, a firefighter, a paramedic, or search and rescue personnel.

A person may not use a drone to harass another person. Further, a drone may not be used within range of a person that has a restraining order against the drone user. These retraining orders are legally known as personal protection orders (PPOs). This could be a possible violation of the PPO as well.

A drone cannot be used to photograph, record, or surveil people in a state of undress who have a reasonable expectation of privacy. This related to activity listed in MCL 750.539j, the statute that prohibits surveiling unclothed people.

For sex offenders, they may not use drones to follow or photograph people they are prohibited from following based on their sentence.

MCL 259.321 and MCL 259.322.

What is the Punishment for this Drone Use?

A violation of these drone use laws is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, or both. MCL 259.323

Call ArborYpsi Law

Call Sam Bernstein at 734-883-9584 or e-mail at

Sam Bernstein is a Criminal Lawyer in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI.

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