Here’s all drone laws in Texas you need to know about!
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the regulatory US-government agency tasked to implement rules and regulations specific to flying drones or UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) in all states of America including Texas.
This guide covers drone laws in every city in Texas including: Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, El Paso, Arlington and more.
FAA Rules and Regulations in Texas:
Flying drones for work/business purposes: Guidelines for using drones for commercial purposes is indicated in FAA Part 107.
Flying drones for recreational purposes: Rules and regulations applies under the Exceptions for Recreational Flyers.
Flying drones for government employees: drones must be registered and be aware of FAA Airspace Restrictions,
Texas State Park Restrictions and Regulations For Flying Drones
- State parks that allow flying of drones/UAS: San Angelo and Martin Dies, Jr state parks.
- Filming is allowed in other parks as long as a permit is acquired.
- Harris County Park (Houston) under Harris County Park Rules Sec. 24, these are the parks with designated fly zones in Houston:
- George Bush Park – Precinct 3 (Houston, TX) – 16756 Westheimer Parkway
- Dyess Park – Precinct 4 (Cypress, TX) – 16822 Kitzman Road
- Schiveley R/C Flying Field (Houston, TX) – 13939 Kuykendhal Road4
Lawful Use Of drones/unmanned aircraft in Texas:
Title 4 Section 423.001.
Drones/UAS use for Image capturing is allowed:
- For academic purposes. If used by any employee, professor, student, or any person under contract acting on behalf of an institution for professional or educational and/or academic purposes
- Integrating drones/UAS into the national airspace. Conducted in flying sites or range authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration
- US military-related activities
- For purposes of mapping, image capturing using satellites
- For conducting official duties in the gas, electric, utility, or telecommunication sector (SB 840, 2019) with consent from property owners, such as maintenance, assessing clearances on utility or telecommunication easements
- For conducting law enforcement duties, warrant of arrest, valid search, crime scene investigation, motor accidents investigations, a search of missing persons
- (Section 1071.002) Land surveillance that requires image capturing conducted by registered professional land surveyors.
- Scene surveillance during a state of emergency, property surveys
- For ensuring safety such as medical response, fire suppression, conducting a high-risk tactical operation that poses threat to human life, rescue operations, etc.
- Recapturing images from a not more than 8 feet height (only by authorized personnel as mentioned in Title 4 Sec.423 Texas state-law.
Unlawful Use Of drones/unmanned aircraft in Texas:
Violation of Section 423.003 is considered an offense.
Title 4 Section 423.004
- Illegal possession (Class C Misdemeanor) and display, distribution, or use of those images (Class B Misdemeanor) are considered an offense and violation of Section 423.003.
- Flying over correctional facilities, jails or prisons, detention centers, and critical infrastructure facilities (enclosed by a fence or physical barriers against outside intruders) are prohibited by law except for state, federal, or other government-related activities or with written consents from property owners.
- Flying over sports venues is prohibited (except if employees of the state, federal, government, authorized agencies, FAA or owners. Or with written consent acquired from owners)
Texas Penal Code Sec. 21.15
An invasive visual recording is an offense.
Texas Administrative Code – Title 37 Part 1 of Chapter 8
Flying drones over the State Capitol or the Capitol Complex is prohibited.
Drone Laws in Texas: FAQs
Do you need a license to fly a drone in Texas?
You need a license to fly a drone in Texas only if you are a commercial pilot in Texas. Commercial drone pilot is basically when fly a drone for work or business related reasons. As Commercial drone pilot, you have to follow the requirements of the FAA’s Part 107 Small UAS Rule (Part 107).
Can I fly my drone around my neighborhood in Texas?
It’s okay to fly your drone over your neighborhood in Texas as the FAA only regulates the airspace above 400 ft. Also, there are so specific laws against flying a drone over private property. But there may be a few local places that have certain regulations.
Can you fly a drone over private property in Texas?
If you fly your drone too low over a private property without permission then it could be considered as trespassing or causing nuisance. However, even if it applies, it would be considered as a civil case and not criminal case.