AMA District I 
Academy of Model Aeronautics

Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont

AMA District I “New England State Drone Laws”  



Maine law defines unmanned aerial vehicles as “aircraft operated without a physical human presence within or on the aircraft that, in the manner in which the aircraft is used or the manner in which it is equipped, is capable of performing audio or visual surveillance.” The legislation states that the statute attempts to balance the potential economic driver for the state, opportunity for research and development, and benefit for security including use of devices in search and rescue efforts, with the potential threats to privacy of citizens in the enactment of all laws regarding unmanned aerial vehicles.

The statute sets out the acceptable uses of unmanned aerial vehicles for law enforcement, providing that the acquisition of any such vehicle by a law enforcement agency must be approved by the governmental body overseeing the law enforcement agency. The commissioner of the law enforcement agency may approve acquisitions in emergency situations.

The statute further states that a law enforcement agency’s operation of unmanned aerial vehicles must comply with Federal Aviation Administration requirements and guidelines, including obtaining applicable authorizations or waivers. In order to use an unmanned vehicle, law enforcement agencies must establish minimum standards for written policies and protocols for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles. At minimum, the standards must include: training and certification requirement for operators; requirements for prior authorization for use of an unmanned aerial vehicle by the chief administrative office of the law enforcement agency; approval by the Attorney General or chief prosecuting attorney for the appropriate jurisdiction for the deployment of an unmanned aerial vehicle for criminal investigation purposes; restrictions on image enhancing technology; procedures to limit exposure of third parties not under investigation and for destroying unnecessary audio or video recordings; recommended minimum altitudes and speeds for operation of unmanned aerial vehicles to minimize third party exposure; methods to minimize the number of vehicles deployed at one time or in the area during any one event; procedures for avoiding hazards to people or property; methods for tracking and recording flight; requirements for regular statistical reporting of flights including purpose, results, and duration to the appropriate government bodies; and accountability for mistake or misuse of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Unmanned aerial vehicles may not, unless permitted by exception or under the Constitution of Maine or United States Constitution, be used for criminal investigations without a warrant. However, apart from the aforementioned minimum regulations in place, law enforcement may use unmanned aerial vehicles for search and rescue operations, or to alleviate immediate danger to a person or for training exercises related to such uses. Law enforcement may also use unmanned aerial vehicles for purposes other than investigation of crime, such as aerial photography for accident assessment, forest fire, flood stages, and storm damage. In no instance may law enforcement use weaponized unmanned aerial vehicles. Law enforcement may not surveil private citizens exercising their constitutional rights of free speech and assembly. They may use unmanned aerial vehicles in emergency situations if approved by the chief administrative officer of the agency or Governor.

On or before July 1 of each year, beginning on July 1 of 2016, the Commissioner of Public Safety shall submit a report containing the number of deployments of unmanned aerial vehicles by law enforcement in the State. The report shall also contain a summary of the number of deployments for investigative purposes, the general nature of those investigations, and the number of search warrants sought as well as the number obtained for deploying unmanned aerial vehicles.

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife has stated that an individual, while on the ground or in the air, may not use an unmanned aircraft system to aid or assist in hunting deer, bear, or moose. This would also prohibit individuals from attaching a loaded firearm or cross bow in or one the aircraft. Additionally, the Bureau of Parks and Lands has enacted regulation regarding the use of unmanned aircraft systems while on Maine State Park property. Generally, the use of unmanned aircraft systems is not allowed in “Maine State Parks, Historic Sites, or DACF [Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry] Boat Launches” without the supervision of an authorized law enforcement agency or Special Activity Permit. Specifically, the Bureau has prohibited commercial use of drones and regulated law enforcement, state employee, and special activity use.

Under certain conditions, Maine law enforcement agencies may “provide oversight for search and rescue mission or training”. Law enforcement agencies may collaborate with outside agencies only if they are Federal Aviation Administration registered and the Bureau of Parks and Land is informed of and present during all Bureau of Parks and Lands unmanned aircraft system use. The law enforcement agency must also notify the Park, Regional, or central office of the Bureau regarding every mission either immediately or right before the beginning of it. Finally, the purpose of all unmanned aircraft system use must be “for search and rescue operations or training.”

State employees are allowed to use unmanned aircraft systems within their job duties and with the Bureau’s permission. Finally, if an individual, not covered by the aforementioned categories, wishes to fly an unmanned aircraft system in a Maine State Park she must apply for a Special Activity. 2018huntinglaws.pdf


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