Utah Lawmakers Set to Tackle Private Drone Use

How tens of thousands of drones are flown in Utah will change – in some instances, drastically change – if state Sen. Howard Stephenson’s expansive “private drone use” bill becomes law.

Stephenson, R-Draper, introduced SB211 on Tuesday.

He couldn’t be reached for comment.

It’s massive bill, 930 lines long, covering many areas of private drone regulations.

A few:

  • Only those 17 and over in age can personally fly a drone. If you are under 17, you can fly one, but a person 17 or older must be standing next to you, someone who knows how to fly it, and be able to take over the controls if need be.
  • In several cases, you will have to have liability insurance to fly a drone.
  • You can’t fly a drone over an “emergency” situation, which could include anything from a car crash or police action to a flood or wildfire.
  • You can’t fly a drone in a way that would violate personal privacy, defined in another part of Utah Code, which means you can’t take pictures or other recordings from an area that wouldn’t normally be seen in a regular manner.


Most likely this means if you can see your neighbor sunbathing from your back porch, you could fly a drone. But if you couldn’t see her sunbathing from your porch, then you couldn’t fly a drone over her property to get a look at her.

  • You couldn’t fly a drone higher than 400 feet off the ground.
  • Or closer than 500 feet from a building taller than 150 feet.
  • Or within 1,000 feet of the State Capitol, where lawmakers meet, or 1,000 feet from the Governor’s Mansion.
  • Or five miles from an airport.
  • You can’t “weaponize” a drone, put guns or other dangerous stuff on it.
  • And you have to put clearly a label on your private drone that has your name, address, telephone number and FAA registration number on it.

A number of the “no fly” restrictions in the bill allow for special exemptions in certain situations.

There are several bills about drones this session.

But Stephenson’s would have the furthest reach.