New Mexico is among the Mountain States with Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, Colorado, and Arizona.
The state has 2.11 million residents as of 2022. It’s a great place to live and fly a drone, but what are the drone laws here?
New Mexico permits drones, but state laws outlaw drone surveillance. This state doesn’t have any local laws. Pilots must always follow FAA guidelines when operating a drone in New Mexico.
This guide to New Mexico drone laws will break things down federally, statewide, and locally to discuss drone usage rules around parks and other parts of this great desert state.
Whether you’ve just moved here or have lived here for a while but just began flying drones, you can’t miss the info we have ahead.
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Federal Drone Laws in Wyoming
The FAA oversees aviation in the United States, including New Mexico.
Further, New Mexico has laws to familiarize yourself with before launching a drone, so let’s explore all the pertinent laws now.
Commercial Drone Pilots
The FAA’s federal drone laws govern drone usage for commercial, agency, and recreational pilots.
We’ll begin by discussing the requirements for commercial pilots.
If you wish to earn money from flying your drone and capturing footage, you must have a Remote Pilot Certificate, also known as a Part 107 license.
You can only obtain that license by taking the Part 107 exam, the official FAA test for commercial drone use.
The Part 107 exam consists of over 50 multiple-choice questions that will test your knowledge of the entirety of the FAA’s drone usage rulebook.
You can register to take the test if you’re 16 and older, in good physical and mental health, and have a full grasp of English, including writing, speaking, and understanding it.
You must take the Part 107 exam in person. The FAA has testing centers scattered about the country, including New Mexico.
The test isn’t free, so we recommend exploring our list of Part 107 online test prep courses so you can study ahead of your exam.
You pass if you answer at least 70 percent of the questions right. You’ll have the Remote Pilot Certificate for the next two years.
After that, you can take the FAA’s free online renewal exam to verify your commercial license for another two years.
That exam is a lot less strenuous.
While the FAA does require you to answer 100 percent of the questions correctly, you can change your answers before you submit the test, and you’ll see incorrect answers too.
It’s not that hard to earn a perfect score!
All courses offered by Pilot Institute are taught by remote pilots, flight instructors, FAA commercial pilots, and other certified professionals.
Recreational Drone Pilots
Now let’s switch gears and discuss the federal requirements for recreational pilots.
Even as a hobbyist, the FAA requires you to pass an exam. Yours is called The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST.
The TRUST exam is about 20 multiple-choice questions on FAA drone laws. You needn’t have memorized every last crevice and corner of the rulebook.
You can take the TRUST online at home or anywhere you have a stable Internet connection.
You’ll see all the incorrect answers as you go along, and you can change any answer you wish before you send in your test.
Once the FAA issues your TRUST certificate, make sure you don’t lose it. You never have to take the exam again otherwise, as the TRUST license doesn’t expire.
Agency Drone Pilots
We must also discuss agency pilots, aka drone pilots contracted by the US government to use a UAV.
These pilots must have a Certificate of Authority (COA) or follow Part 107 rules.
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State Drone Laws in New Mexico
Next, let’s examine New Mexico’s state laws, which are unique to and enforceable only in this state. New Mexico has only one state law, SB 556.
SB 556 // 2013
2013’s Senate Bill 556 was added to the state legislature to protect the privacy of its citizens from drones.
In conjunction with the Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, SB 556 limits the kind of information drones can collect and curtails surveillance-heavy drone behavior.
According to Section 3. Prohibition Against Surveillance by Drone or Unmanned Aircraft, the rules are as follows:
“A. A person or state agency shall not use a drone or unmanned aircraft to gather evidence or other information pertaining to criminal conduct or conduct in violation of a statute or regulation except to the extent authorized in a warrant.
B. A person or state agency shall not use a drone or unmanned aircraft to conduct surveillance of an individual or of property owned by an individual, farm or agricultural industry without the consent of that individual, property owner, farm or agricultural industry.”
Then, per Section 4. Use of Drones or Unmanned Aircraft Under Exigent Circumstances, SB 556 lays out the following rules:
“The Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act does not prohibit the use of a drone by a law enforcement agency when exigent circumstances exist. For the purposes of this section, exigent circumstances exist if a law enforcement agency possesses reasonable suspicion that, under particular circumstances, swift action is necessary to prevent imminent danger to life.”
SB 556 concludes by mentioning that violating this drone law counts as a “petty misdemeanor.” You’d receive a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment for under six months.
Peltier has quite the experience, making him qualified to teach about photography and drones in separate courses. He was a part of the U.S. Air Force as an F-15E flight instructor for a decade.
Does New Mexico Have Any Local Drone Laws?
Many states across the country institute local drone laws, which apply to specific cities, towns, villages, and counties across that state.
However, not every state has local drone laws, and New Mexico is among them.
This means that local ordinances shouldn’t apply. However, you’re still required to follow the federal and state laws we’ve discussed.
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!
New Mexico Drone Flight FAQs
If you still have a couple of questions about how and where you can fly your drone in New Mexico, this section is for you.
We put together a handy FAQs list that will help you plan your flight route.
Can I Fly a Drone in a Public Park?
Visiting a public park is a great way to get some fresh air and sunshine.
You can also practice flying your drone, and if you’re in a less busy area, you don’t have to worry about crowds.
Are you allowed to fly a drone in a New Mexico public park?
Drones are allowed in some public parks throughout New Mexico, including Pat Hurley Park and Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque.
Since public park drone usage rules vary throughout the state, please contact the park you’re interested in visiting and ask about their drone policy before you show up.
Can I Fly a Drone in a State Park?
New Mexico has 35 illustrious state parks, including:
- Rockhound State Park
- Storrie Lake State Park
- Ute Lake State Park
- Bottomless Lakes State Park
- Sugarite Canyon State Park
- Santa Rosa Lake State Park and many more
Are you allowed to use your drone?
Drones are typically prohibited from entering New Mexico state parks.
However, that rule might not apply across all the state parks in the area, so contact a park ranger or representative before you visit and ask what the rules are.
You can also read the series of articles we have on the blog about flying in state parks, as these guides are a great resource!
To help you apply the knowledge you’ve gathered, you can take a practice test that has more than 200 questions. DLA culled those questions from real FAA exams.
New Mexico is a state famed for its white sands, Puebloan history, and landscape diversity.
You’re allowed to fly a drone in the state according to federal law, but you cannot use your drone for illegal surveillance.
That state law applies to agency pilots especially but also to recreational and commercial pilots.
Although New Mexico has no local drone laws, that doesn’t make this state a free-for-all.
You must always follow FAA guidelines, such as staying five nautical miles from military bases and airports.
You might also be restricted from flying in some of New Mexico’s public and state parks.