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Drone Laws in Maine

Many travelers seek out Maine for breathtaking sights such as Acadia National Park, Cadillac Mountain, the Portland Head Light, Mount Katahdin, and the Sunday River Resort. You dream of capturing footage with your drone from these incredible summits.

What are the drone laws in Maine?

Drone pilots are welcome in Maine but must follow federal and statewide laws. You cannot operate your drone in any state park or historic site, and drone pilots are always expected to follow Part 107 rules.

We’ll clear up all the drone laws in Maine for you, so there’s no confusion on your part before you fly.

This is a can’t-miss article for drone pilots in the area!

Federal drone laws in Maine

The United States government establishes federal drone laws for states across the country, Maine included.

The laws pertain to government employees who use drones as well as hobbyist and commercial drone pilots.

Let’s take a closer look at Maine’s federal drone laws.

Agency Drone Pilots

Government employees who use drones in Maine, also known as agency drone pilots, are required to follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rules.

In some instances, an agency pilot might need a Certificate of Authorization or COA.

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Recreational Drone Pilots

Recreational drone pilots are hobbyists who use drones for fun, but even still, there are rules you must abide by. Those are Part 107 rules, of course.

These rules are instituted for the safety of drone pilots as well as citizens and structures in the vicinity.

Before you head out with your drone, you should weigh it. If it weighs 0.55 pounds or over, then the FAA requires you to register the drone through them.

The registration fee isn’t steep in the slightest – it’s only $5 – and you won’t have to think about registering that drone for another three years once it’s done.

Any very lightweight toy drones that are under 0.55 pounds needn’t be registered with the FAA.

The last federal drone requirement for recreational pilots is to take The Recreational UAS Safety Test, aka the TRUST test, through the FAA.

The TRUST test is a short, free, online-based exam that quizzes you on your knowledge of FAA rules.

You’ll see which questions you answered incorrectly as you’re taking the test. You’re also granted the ability to change your answer before moving on to the next question.

Once you pass (you can earn a perfect score with correctable answers), you’re issued a TRUST certificate. Keep this on you whenever you fly your drone!

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Commercial Drone Pilots

The last group of drone pilots who must follow Maine federal drone law is commercial pilots.

You, too, are expected to register any drone you use with the FAA. The registration fee is $5, and your registration also lasts for three years.

On top of that, the FAA requires commercial drone pilots to take the Part 107 exam to earn a Remote Pilot Certificate.

» MORE: FAA Part 107 for Commercial Drone Pilots

The Part 107 exam is a two-and-a-half-hour rigorous exam that tests you on the breadth of your knowledge of Part 107 rules.

It must be taken at a testing center on the FAA’s approved list, and it’s not free to register to take the exam.

Unlike the TRUST test, you cannot see whether you answered any questions correctly or incorrectly while you’re taking the test. You have to go with your gut.

That’s why studying for the Part 107 exam is so important.

If you’re considering enrolling in an online drone school to study up on what you need to know, we’ve reviewed all the schools here.

» MORE: Best Drone Courses Taught by Experts

If you don’t pass, you can always take the Part 107 exam again, but it costs money to do that.

So how do you pass? You need to answer at least 70 percent of the questions correctly. Then you’re issued your Remote Pilot Certificate.

» MORE: Is the Part 107 Test Hard? (Find Out Here)

The Remote Pilot Certificate lasts for two years. At that time, to re-certify, you must take the Part 107 exam again.

Even with your certificate in tow (it should always be on your person when flying commercially), you’re required to follow Part 107 rules.

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State drone laws in Maine

Next, let’s discuss the Maine drone laws that apply on a statewide level.

Bureau of Parks and Lands Drone Policy

The first state law comes from the Bureau of Parks and Lands. In their Maine State Park Policy, it’s clearly stated that “commercial use of drones (UAS) is prohibited.”

That’s about as cut and dried as it gets.

There’s more to this policy as well. The Bureau of Parks and Lands also states that:

“The general use of drones (UAS) is prohibited in Maine State Parks, Historic Sites, or DACF Boat Launches without direct oversight and guidance of an approved law enforcement agency or by the issue of a Special Activity Permit.”

It appears then that if you’re a recreational drone pilot and you have a Special Activity Permit or permission from the police that you can fly your drone in a Maine historic site or state park.

Special Activity Permits are issued “under rare circumstances,” says the Bureau of Parks and Lands.

There’s also a section in the Maine State Park Policy that applies to law enforcement. These agency drone pilots must only use drones “for search and rescue operations or training.”

You can work with an outside agency as long as that agency is registered with the FAA and certified for reconnaissance and search and rescue.

You’d still have to get in touch with the Bureau of Parks and Land if you’re going to fly your drone on any property owned by the Bureau as an agency drone pilot.

The law enforcement agencies in the state in which this rule applies are the Maine Municipal Police Departments, Maine County Sheriff Departments, Maine Forest Service, Maine Marine Patrol, Maine Warden Service, and the Maine State Police.

LD 25 // 2015

The second Maine state drone law is LD 25, which was passed in 2015 to protect Maine citizens’ privacy when it comes to using drones.

The law states that law enforcement “may not operate an unmanned aerial vehicle to collect, disclose or receive information acquired through the operation of unmanned aerial vehicle” unless in these circumstances:

  • “A. Pursuant to an emergency enforcement or administrative investigation exception under section 4503;
  • B. To collect, disclose or receive information about a person or the person’s residence, property or area if that person has given written consent;
  • C. Pursuant to a warrant issued under Title 15, section 55; or
  • D. Pursuant to an order issued by a court of competent jurisdiction if a law enforcement agency offers specific and articulable facts demonstrating that there is a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, that the operation of the unmanned aerial vehicle will uncover such activity and that the alternate methods of collecting information either are cost-prohibitive or present a significant risk to a person’s bodily safety.” Even still, drone operation is limited to 48 hours.

LD 25 also states that law enforcement must have a warrant to operate a UAV and that if an existing warrant is terminated, the law enforcement officer should not continue to use the UAV.

In §4505. Violations; private right of action, LD 25 lists the punishments a law enforcement officer can face for breaking the rules.

“If a law enforcement agency violates any provision of this chapter, the person about whom information was collected, personally or as owner of a residence, property or area, in violation of this chapter may institute and prosecute in that person’s own name and on that person’s behalf a civil action for legal or equitable relief.

In addition to compensatory damages, a person whose rights have been violated by a violation of this chapter may recover no more than $5,000 plus reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs.”

Are there local drone laws in Maine?

Local drone laws are ordinances and rules enforced by cities, towns, counties, and villages.

Many states have local drone laws to keep the peace on a local level, but Maine is not one of them.

That’s likely due to how comprehensive the Bureau of Parks and Lands’ drone policy is, but we won’t speculate.

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Maine Drone Law FAQs

As we wrap up, let’s address some questions that might still be fresh on your mind before you fly your drone in beautiful Maine.

Can you fly a drone in a public park in Maine?

You’re interested in spending a day in a Maine public park taking in the stunning sights from your drone’s aerial camera.

As idyllic as this may sound, if a park is classified as a historic site, then per the Bureau of Parks and Lands Drone Policy, you cannot fly your drone there.

Here are some popular destinations throughout Maine that are considered state historic sites:

  • Fort Kent Blockhouse
  • Wadsworth-Longfellow House & Garden
  • Palace Playland
  • Acadia National Park
  • Fort Williams
  • Nubble Lighthouse
  • Old Port

While not all the locations on the list above are parks, a lot of parks do indeed fit Maine’s definition of a historic sight.

To be on the safe side, before flying your drone, contact the parks and rec association for the public park you’d like to visit and ask about its historic status.

If it’s historic, you cannot fly there.

Can you fly a drone in a State Park in Maine?

As glorious and magnificent as Maine’s 32 state parks are, the Bureau of Parks and Lands makes it exceedingly clear that commercial drone pilots cannot fly in a state park, and neither can recreational pilots without a Special Activity Permit.

You’ll recall that this permit is called “rare” by the Bureau themselves, so that means that you’d have to have a truly compelling reason to be allowed to fly a drone in a state park in Maine.

Conclusion

Maine is a beloved east coast state with so many natural wonders. To preserve those wonders for generations to come, drone usage is strictly prohibited.

Although none of the drone laws outline the punishments for disobeying, it’s not worth personally finding out!

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References:
Bureau of Parks and Lands (link)
LD 25 (link)