The humble state of Idaho is home to gorgeous natural sights such as Shoshone Falls Park, the mountain resort Schweitzer, Bogus Basin, and Silver Mountain Resort. Seeing these breathtaking mountainous views would only be made better with your drone.
Can you legally fly a drone in Idaho?
Idaho welcomes drone pilots but enforces federal, state, and local laws. Drones aren’t allowed in many public and state parks, and you cannot fly a drone in Idaho for the purpose of hunting local animals either.
Idaho has a lot of drone laws, and we plan to cover them all extensively in this article.
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be able to launch your drone with the peace of mind that you’re obeying the law.
Federal Drone Laws in Idaho
The United States government has established federal drone laws that apply in every state across the country, Idaho included.
These laws encompass commercial, recreational, and agency drone pilots.
Let’s take a closer look at these federal drone laws.
Commercial Drone Pilots
Commercial drone pilots living in Idaho are always required to follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rules, which are known as the Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems Regulations.
The rules prohibit drone pilots from flying recklessly (including when under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol), flying near manned aircraft, and flying beyond your visual line of sight.
To test your mettle, before you’re legally permitted to fly your drone commercially, Idaho’s federal drone law requires you to pass the Part 107 exam as issued by the FAA.
You’ll have to register with the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application or IACRA through the FAA to select a testing location and a date and time for your exam.
The exam must be taken in person and costs money to take each time.
You’ll have over two hours to answer 60 questions. You need a passing score of at least 70 percent. You can retake the test.
By studying ahead of time and enrolling in an online drone school with Part 107 exam prep (we’ve reviewed them all here on the blog), you should have a better shot of passing the first time.
After receiving your passing grade, you’ll have to log back into your IACRA profile and submit your application to receive your FAA drone license.
The license is good for two years, and then you’re required to register for the FAA exam again to continue flying your drone commercially.
All courses offered by Pilot Institute are taught by remote pilots, flight instructors, FAA commercial pilots, and other certified professionals.
Recreational Drone Pilots
Recreational or hobbyist drone pilots in Idaho are also expected to stay current on FAA laws and follow them to the letter. This is for the safety of everyone around you when you’re operating your drone.
The FAA requires hobbyists to take a different test than the Part 107 exam that’s known as The Recreational UAS Safety Test, or TRUST test.
The TRUST exam is far different than the Part 107 exam.
It’s free to take, it’s a lot shorter, and it’s easier to earn a perfect score. That’s because, for every incorrect response, as you answer the questions, the test will show you the correct one.
You must also change your answer to the correct one before moving on.
The biggest difference between the Part 107 license and the TRUST certificate is that the latter will not expire.
You must always have the certificate on your person when flying your drone. If you lose it, you must retake the TRUST test.
TRUST is a collaboration between the FAA and industry to provide TRUST and educational safety material to Recreational Flyers.
Agency Drone Pilots
The third group of drone pilots subjected to Idaho federal drone law is agency drone pilots or government employees.
Those who work for the state fire department or police department may sometimes need to use drones for work-related purposes.
Even still, following FAA Part 107 rules is required. Additionally, agency drone pilots may need a Certificate of Authorization or COA.
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State Drone Laws in Idaho
Now that you’re caught up on Idaho’s federal drone laws, it’s time to discuss the laws that apply on a statewide basis.
The first of these laws is IDAPA 13.01.03 through the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Fisheries and Wildlife Bureaus and applies to the use of lands owned by the Department of Fish and Game.
According to Section 100, Public Use Restrictions., “Unless specifically authorized by the Commission, Director, Regional Supervisor, or designee, no person may…land or launch aircraft except on public airstrips.”
Aircraft is defined in IDAPA 13.01.03 as “Any vehicle capable of use for transportation on or in the air and any unmanned system,” so that would indeed include your drone.
You can apply for a permit through the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Fisheries and Wildlife Bureaus that would grant you more inclusive drone use, but the permit must be approved.
Idaho Code 21-213
The next state drone law is Idaho Code 21-213, which is concerned with the use of aeronautics in the state.
In Section (2) (a), drone users, including any “person, entity or state agency” are prohibited from using their drones to “intentionally conduct surveillance of, gather evidence or collect information about, or photographically or electronically record specifically targeted persons or specifically targeted private property.”
That includes any ranch, dairy, farm, or agricultural industry as well as industrial properties in which the property owner has not given the drone pilot written consent.
You’re also barred from using your drone in a surveilling manner near “an individual or dwelling owned by an individual and such dwelling’s curtilage, without such individual’s written consent.”
Curtilage, if you’re not sure, refers to the land that’s attached to a house. In other words, you cannot use your drone for surveillance purposes on someone’s private property, including the land and the home itself.
Section (2) (b) states that you cannot use a drone to record or photograph someone unless that person has given you their written consent “for the purpose of publishing or otherwise publicly disseminating such photograph or recording.”
Section (3) discusses what the ramifications are for breaking the rules. Basically, you can have a civil cause of action brought against you.
Idaho Code 36-1101
Idaho Code 36-1101 is about protecting birds and animals in this great state.
In Section (b), drone users are prohibited from hunting game birds and game animals using their drones as well as “any motorized vehicle” “except as provided by commission rule.”
In Section (b) 2, the code states that drone pilots cannot “molest, stir up, rally or drive in any manner any of the game animals or game birds of this state.”
Section (b) 3 mentions that you cannot use your drone to communicate with others about where game birds or game animals are located.
Local Drone Laws in Idaho
Finally, there are several Idaho drone laws that only apply to certain cities, towns, or counties. Let’s review these laws now.
Canyon County Parks // 2016
Canyon County is a populous part of Idaho with more than 231,000 residents.
In Section 7 of its ordinance, Canyon County makes the rules clear on what’s allowed and what isn’t in its parks.
Here’s the law in full: “Except when authorized by the director of Canyon County department of parks, cultural and natural resources, no person shall launch, land, or operate drones or other radio controlled aircraft in any Canyon County park. Drones and radio controlled aircraft may not operate below five hundred feet (500’) in any Canyon County park airspace.”
Those rules are fairly clear-cut. If you’re in a park in Canyon County, then you’d need authorization to fly your drone.
Even if you are allowed to operate your UAV in a Canyon County park, you’d still have to keep it below 500 feet at all times.
Ada County Ordinance No. 883 // 2018
Ada County is an even larger Idaho county than Canyon County with over 511,000 residents. In Ordinance No. 883, drone usage laws in the area are established.
Section C states that all drone users in Ada County need to carry a drone license and register their UAVs with the FAA.
We’re not sure where that would leave recreational drone pilots, as the ordinance makes it clear that the license is a “remote pilot certificate” and not the TRUST license.
Section D covers drone usage restrictions. Drone pilots are prohibited from using their drones:
- “in a manner that harasses, startles, or annoys pedestrians or vehicles, threatens their safety and welfare, or creates or causes a public nuisance,
- in a reckless or careless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another, or
- for the purpose of capturing a person’s visual image, audio recording or other physical impression in any place where the person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy, or
- in a manner that interferes with the lawful efforts of a firefighter or other public safety officer to extinguish a fire or respond to a medical or other emergency.”
In Section F, the Ada County ordinance notes that violating the terms set forth in the ordinance will lead to a fine of at least $100.
Idaho Drone Law FAQs
Do you still have a couple of unanswered questions before you fly your drone in Idaho? This section will tell you everything you need to know!
Can You Fly a Drone in a Public Park in Idaho?
Public parks are aplenty in Idaho, but before you assume you can fly in one, you should know the rules.
For instance, Canyon County bans drone usage in its parks unless you have express permission to fly. You’ll also recall from the last section that your drone height cannot exceed 500 feet at any point when flying.
Ada County requires drone pilots to have an FAA license and fly in such a way as to not endanger public safety or infrastructure.
That said, drones aren’t out and out banned in public parks in this county.
If you want to fly a drone in a public park beyond those two counties, we’d recommend double-checking with the local parks and rec association.
You can never be too careful!
Can You Fly a Drone in a State Park in Idaho?
As we touched on in the intro, Idaho has some truly dazzling state parks. Naturally, you’ll want to pack up your drone and visit a park for an afternoon. Can you?
Although none of the Idaho drone laws mentioned state parks specifically, the state law through the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and the Fisheries and Wildlife Bureaus mandates that any areas designated as Wildlife Management Areas do not allow drones.
That more than likely would bar you from a lot of state parks.
Idaho is a state brimming with lush beauty. Drone pilots can fly their UAVs in this state but are subject to a lot of legal restrictions.
Considering that you can get slapped with some pretty severe penalties, it’s worth it to always obey the law!
When you take the test, you’re protected under the Drone Pro Academy’s pass guarantee. If you fail your Part 107 test the first time, the academy will give you $160 to put towards retesting!
Part 107 rules (link)
Part 107 exam (link)
The Recreational UAS Safety Test (link)
IDAPA 13.01.03 (link)
Section 21-213 – Idaho State Legislature (link)
Section 36-1101 – Idaho State Legislature (link)
04-01-07: Park Rules and Regulations (link)
Ordinance No. 883 (link)