Louisiana offers 38 state parks and six national parks, providing an assortment of gorgeous outdoor sights for residents and visitors alike. You’re packing your drone and are eager to take it to Louisiana, but you’re not too confident about the rules.
Are drones legally allowed in this state?
Drone pilots can fly in Louisiana but must follow federal, state, and local drone laws. You are not allowed to use your UAV for surveillance or video voyeurism, both of which are crimes. Park flight is sometimes restricted, but not for state parks.
Louisiana has a huge assortment of drone laws on the state and local levels, and we’ll take you through each one in this informative guide.
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know where you can and cannot fly your drone in this southern state!
Federal drone laws in Louisiana
We’ll begin by covering Louisiana’s federal drone laws, which apply to commercial, recreational, and agency drone pilots.
These laws are instituted by the United States government.
Commercial Drone Pilots
Commercial drone pilots are required through Louisiana federal drone law to follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 drone rules whenever they fly.
You’ll also be expected to always carry your Remote Pilot Certificate, aka the Part 107 license, on your person.
What if you don’t yet have your Remote Pilot Certificate? Then you’ll have to pass the Part 107 exam to earn it.
First-time test-takers must be at least 16 years old with full proficiency in the English language (capable of writing, reading, speaking, and understanding it).
You must also be deemed physically and mentally capable of operating a drone.
The exam includes 60 questions, all multiple-choice, and you’re given two and a half hours to answer them all. You’ll pay to take the test at a testing center that meets FAA approval.
Studying is critical to passing. We have a list of resources here of all the best online drone schools that offer prep for the Part 107 exam.
Many of them have money-back guarantees if you don’t pass the test the first time around.
The Remote Pilot Certificate, once you have it, only lasts two years from the day it’s issued. Then you must take the Part 107 exam again.
The FAA also requires commercial drone pilots to pay $5 per drone they want to register for flight. The registration lasts for three years.
Recreational Drone Pilots
Hobbyists or recreational drone pilots must also follow Part 107 rules at all times per Louisiana’s federal drone laws.
Although you don’t have to endure the strenuous rigors of the Part 107 exam, the FAA does require you to pass a test of a different nature. It’s called The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST.
The TRUST test includes only 23 questions. You can take the test online for free, and all incorrect answers are correctable at the time you answer them. You must get a perfect score (with corrections) in order to complete the test.
Your TRUST certificate does not expire, so always have it on your person when flying your drone recreationally.
You’ll also be expected to register any drone that exceeds 0.55 pounds. The registration fee is $5, and your registration will also be good for the next three years.
Agency Drone Pilots
Louisiana federal drone law applies to government employees who use drones, who are also known as agency drone pilots.
This group of drone pilots must follow Part 107 rules as well and may have to go through the FAA to obtain a Certificate of Authorization or COA.
State Drone Laws in Louisiana
As promised, let’s next go over the huge assortment of Louisiana state drone laws, of which there are eight in all.
HB 1029 // 2014
The first is HB 1029, which was enacted in 2014 to protect Louisianans from unlawful drone surveillance.
The law reads that “Unlawful use of an unmanned aircraft system is the intentional use of an unmanned aircraft system to conduct surveillance of, gather evidence or collect information about, or photographically or electronically record a targeted facility without the prior written consent of the owner of the targeted facility.”
HB 1029 later elaborates that a “targeted facility” can include nuclear power and electric generation facilities, rubber and chemical manufacturing facilities, and alumina and petroleum refineries.
While HB 1029 is clear to mention that you can use a drone on your own property how you wish, you cannot use your drone around other facilities or private property without a stiff punishment.
You could be fined up to $500 or put in jail for six months if this is your first offense. For a second offense, now you’d be fined up to $2,000 and imprisoned for upward of a year.
You could be fined and face jail time rather than one or the other.
SB 183 // 2015
SB 183 isn’t as widely applicable to drone pilots, as this 2015 law is concerned with creating rules around using drones agriculturally.
If that’s your job as a commercial drone pilot, then you will need to take an agricultural education and safety training course.
You must apply for a license and registration through the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, both of which last for three years and are renewable.
If using your drone agriculturally, any data you collect must be used “solely in the course of conducting a generally accepted agricultural commercial operation.”
SB 141 // 2016
To avoid a criminal trespass charge on your permanent record, pay attention to SB 141.
Under this state drone law, “No person shall enter upon immovable property owned by another without express legal, or implied authorization.”
HB 635 // 2016
Another law that pertains to drone crimes in Louisiana is HB 635, which is all about illegal voyeurism.
According to §283, in HB 635, “Video voyeurism is any of the following: The use of any camera, photo-optical, photo-electric, unmanned aircraft system, or any other image recording device for the purpose of observing, viewing, photographing, filming, or videotaping a person where that person has not consented to the observing, viewing, photographing, filming, or videotaping and it is for a lewd or lascivious purpose.”
HB 635 defines voyeurism as follows: “Voyeurism is the viewing, observing, spying upon, or invading the privacy of a person by looking or using an unmanned aircraft system to look through the doors, windows, or other openings of a private residence without the consent of the victim who has a reasonable expectation of privacy for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desires of the offender.”
HB 335 // 2016
Since 2016, HB 335 has instituted licensing and registration fees for unmanned aerial systems in Louisiana.
The above licensing and registration fees will cost no more than $100.
HB 19 // 2016
Another Louisiana drone surveillance law is HB 19.
According to the law, drone pilots are using their UAVs unlawfully if they do the following: “(1) The intentional use of an unmanned aircraft system to collect surveillance of, gather evidence or collect information about, or photographically or electronically record a targeted facility without the prior written consent of the owner of the targeted facility.
(2) The intentional use of an unmanned aircraft system over the grounds of a state or local jail, prison, or other correctional facility that incarcerates or detains juveniles or adults accused of, convicted of, sentenced for, or adjudicated delinquent for violations of criminal law without the express written consent of the person in charge of that state or local jail, prison, or other correctional facility.”
Although HB 19 and HB 1029 read a lot alike (the punishments are the same, after all), the two laws are different. HB 19 adds all that information about flying your drone around a jail or correctional facility.
SB 73 // 2016
SB 73, enacted in 2016, pertains to obstructing the work of Louisiana police.
Drone pilots are not supposed to pass a police cordon with their UAV, and even the airspace over the cordoned area is considered off-limits.
SB 69 // 2017
The last state Louisiana drone law is SB 69, which reads as follows:
“(1) The state shall have exclusive jurisdiction to regulate all unmanned aircraft systems and all unmanned aerial systems.
(2) State law shall supersede and preempt any rule, regulation, code, or ordinance of any political subdivision or other unit of local government.”
Local drone laws in Louisiana
Louisiana has a few local drone laws too, so let’s take a look at those as well.
City Park New Orleans – Park Rules
As the best-known and biggest attraction in Louisiana, it only makes sense that New Orleans would institute park rules for its famed City Park.
Drones are not allowed to fly in this park. If you have a park pass to City Park and you violate the rules, then City Park can revoke your pass.
Audubon Nature Institute Parks – Park Rules
Audubon Nature Institute has its own park rules for the parks it manages. Drones and kites are prohibited from the properties.
Those rules apply to Audubon Park, Riverview Park, Woldenberg Park, and Wilderness Park.
Louisiana drone law FAQs
To wrap up, let’s address any lingering questions you might have about where you can and cannot fly a drone throughout the great state of Louisiana.
Can you fly a drone in a public park in Louisiana?
If a public park is managed by the Audubon Nature Institute or if the park in question is City Park New Orleans, then you’ll recall from the section above that you can’t fly your UAV there.
While only those local laws mention drone usage in public parks specifically, and that probably means you’re in the clear when flying your UAV at other public parks, it’s always best to contact the parks and rec association and confirm.
Can you fly a drone in a state park in Louisiana?
As we mentioned in the intro, Louisiana has nearly 40 state parks. Some of them are Fontainebleau State Park, Grand Isle State Park, Sam Houston Jones State Park, Chicot State Park, and Cypremort Point State Park.
So, are drones allowed in these and the many other astonishing state parks throughout Louisiana?
The Louisiana State Parks website has this to say:
“Personal drone usage is allowed at Louisiana State Park properties; however, we request that operators be mindful of other guests and not interfere with their enjoyment of our parks and historic sites.
Due to the nature of historic sites, we ask that you contact the site in advance of your visit to determine that drone usage will not interfere with any activities or special programs at the time of your visit.”
Personal drone usage, as it’s defined on the website, refers to recreational or hobbyist drone flight.
You can fly a drone commercially at a Louisiana state park, but you have to go through the Assistant Secretary in advance of your visit.
The website also states that “drone operators should be aware of and comply with all Federal, State, and local laws regarding drone operation.”
It’s exceedingly rare that a state allows drones in a state park, so enjoy the experience but fly safely.
Louisiana has a lot of drone laws, especially on a statewide level.
The laws exist to keep citizens safe from unwanted voyeurism and surveillance as well as to define the allowable parameters for drones in the state.
You’re afforded a lot of drone flight freedoms in Louisiana but remember to always follow FAA Part 107 rules. Some of the fines for disobeying are rather hefty!
HB 1029 (link)
SB 183 (link)
SB 141 (link)
HB 635 (link)
HB 335 (link)
HB 19 (link)
SB 73 (link)
SB 69 (link)
Permits | New Orleans City Park (link)
Woldenberg Riverfront Park Rules (link)
Louisiana State Parks (link)