RALEIGH – As drones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), become more common, North Carolina’s laws are changing to stay up-to-date with this fast-growing industry.  Two laws that were passed in July will take effect on Friday, Dec. 1.

House Bill 128 prohibits drone use near prisons, jails and any other correction or containment facility. Near is defined as a horizontal distance of 500 feet or a vertical distance of 250 feet. Signs will be placed around facilities to remind drone users of the boundaries.

House Bill 337 revises existing state drone laws. The language of the law has been changed to clarify that UAS laws will now apply to model aircraft as well. Model aircraft users are still exempt from the state’s permitting requirements.

The revisions also loosen restrictions on the use of UAS in emergency management. The law permits emergency management agencies to use drones for all activities related to emergency management and removes the restriction on the use of special imaging technology. The use of technologies such as thermal and infrared was previously only permitted for scientific purposes. The removal of the restriction allows private and commercial operators to assist law enforcement with emergency management efforts such as search and rescue operations.

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