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Drone Laws in Oregon

Oregon offers rich sights such as the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, the Portland Japanese Garden, Multnomah Falls, Crater Lake National Park, and the Bandon Dunes.

If you long to explore Portland and other cities and towns in Oregon with your drone, you might be wondering, what are the laws in this state?

Oregon enforces federal, state, and local drone laws. Pilots must always follow FAA Part 107 rules, avoid harassing property owners with their drones, and follow local ordinances in city and town parks.

If you want to learn about the drone laws in Oregon, you’ve come to the right place.

This guide will review all federal, state, and local drone laws in full so you can always stay on the right side of the law when operating a UAV!

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Federal Drone Laws in Oregon

Let’s begin by reviewing Oregon’s federal drone laws. All states within the United States have a set of federal drone laws regulating the activities of commercial, recreational, and government pilots. These laws are set in place by the US government.

Here’s what you need to know.

Recreational Drone Pilots

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rules are required for all drone pilots to follow, even hobbyists flying for fun.

As part of the FAA’s Part 107 rules, as a recreational pilot, you must have a TRUST certificate.

This certificate is very easy to earn, so don’t sweat it if you don’t have it.

You have to sign up to take The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST exam. This test doesn’t cost a fee to take, and it’s all done online.

The TRUST exam is fewer than 30 questions, so it’s short too. If you blank on the answers when taking the test, any incorrect answers are changeable before you finish.

The FAA doesn’t need you to memorize the Part 107 rules as a recreational pilot, per se, just have a firm grasp on them. That’s why you can change your answers.

Once you take the test, you’ll receive your TRUST certificate, which doesn’t require recertification.

Make sure you register your drone if it weighs at least 0.55 pounds or over. You can register the UAV with the FAA for only $5, and the registration lasts for three years.

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Commercial Drone Pilots

Federal drone laws in Oregon apply to commercial drone pilots as well. That means you too must follow the FAA’s Part 107 rules.

Under those rules, a commercial drone pilot needs a specialized license called the Remote Pilot Certificate.

The Remote Pilot Certificate is obtainable by taking the Part 107 exam.

» MORE: FAA Part 107 for Commercial Drone Pilots

The Part 107 exam is no walk in the park. The test isn’t free to take, unlike the TRUST exam, and you can’t do it online, either.

You have to sign up to take the exam at an FAA testing center across the country, whichever one is closest to you.

You’ll have to use your own knowledge and intuition to determine if your answers are correct, as there’s no means of finding out which answers you got right or wrong while taking the test.

If you’re feeling a pit of anxiety in your stomach reading this, don’t panic. You can always sign up for an online drone course led by an expert to cram for the Part 107 exam. We’ve rounded up the best such courses below.

» MORE: Best Drone Courses Taught by Experts

Passing the Part 107 exam requires you to score 70 percent or higher.

Once you have your Remote Pilot Certificate, be forewarned that it does not last forever. In two years, you’ll have to renew.

The FAA now requires commercial drone pilots to take a renewal exam. This exam is free and can be done online.

» MORE: Renewal of Your Part 107 Certificate

You need a perfect score to renew your Remote Pilot Certificate. During the test, as is the case with the TRUST exam, you can see your right and wrong answers.

You can also go back and correct wrong answers to ensure you score a 100.

Please don’t forget to register your drone with the FAA as well!

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Agency Drone Pilots

Government or agency drone pilots such as Oregon fire departments and law enforcement agencies are also expected to obey federal drone laws.

These pilots should follow Part 107 rules or get a Certificate of Authorization or COA.

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State Drone Laws in Oregon

Next, let’s go over Oregon’s state drone laws, as there are quite a lot of them.

HB 2710 // 2013

The first of these Oregon state drone laws is 2013’s HB 2710, which is concerned with how law enforcement agencies use drones.

According to the law, law enforcement cannot use drones except in the following circumstances:

  • “Pursuant to a warrant based on probable cause, including exceptions for exigent circumstances,
  • With consent of the individual being surveilled,
  • For search and rescue, or in an emergency, including a state of emergency declared by the Governor,
  • To map a crime or accident scene,
  • For law enforcement training purposes where information collected is used only for training.”

Further, for public bodies outside of the military, the following drone use conditions are in place:

  • “Beginning in 2016, must register drones with Oregon Department of Aviation and report annually to Oregon Department of Aviation on use,
  • May not use footage in any adjudicatory proceeding unless licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (provision sunsets in 2016).”

Drone pilots also cannot use a drone as a weapon.

Further, HB 2710 “criminalizes intentional interference with a drone operation and imposes civil penalties for interference and for trespass,” “preempts local governments from regulating use of drones,” and “directs Oregon Department of Aviation to report to an interim legislative committee on status of federal regulations of drones.”

SB 5702 // 2016

Next is SB 5702, which, since 2016, has established that registering a public drone comes with a fee.

HB 4066 // 2016

HB 4066 is concerned with provisions for unmanned aircraft systems.

In Section 2, the amendment to the law is as follows: “A public body may not operate an unmanned aircraft system that is capable of firing a bullet or other projectile, directing a laser or otherwise being used as a weapon.”

If you are found guilty of this crime, then you’d be charged with a Class A misdemeanor. This is a serious crime with punishments including a fine of $6,250 or 364 days in jail.

In Section 3, you could be charged with a “crime of endangering aircraft in the first degree” by doing the following:

  • “(a) Throws an object at, or drops an object upon, an aircraft;
  • (b) Discharges a bow and arrow, gun, airgun or firearm at or toward an aircraft;
  • (c) Tampers with an aircraft or a part, system, machine or substance used to operate an aircraft in such a manner as to impair the safety, efficiency or operation of an aircraft without the consent of the owner, operator or possessor of the aircraft; or
  • (d) Places, sets, arms or causes to be discharged a spring gun, trap, explosive device or explosive material with the intent of damaging, destroying or discouraging the operation of an aircraft.”

Endangering aircraft can count as either a Class A misdemeanor or a Class C felony, says HB 4066.

You already know what a Class A misdemeanor is, but what about a Class C felony? You might be imposed with a steep fine of $125,000 or have to spend up to five years in jail.

In Section 8, a public body is not allowed to operate a drone unless the drone is registered with the Oregon Department of Aviation. Breaking this law could lead to a $10,000 fine from the Oregon Department of Aviation.

In Section 10, a real property owner can bring an action against commercial drone pilots who fly over the property if they’ve done it more than once and have received a prior warning.

In Section 11, if you use your drone in the following ways, it counts as an invasion of personal privacy:

  • “(a)(A) For the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of the person, the person is in a location to observe another person in a state of nudity without the consent of the other person; and
  • (B) The other person is in a place and circumstances where the person has a reasonable expectation of personal privacy; or
  • (b)(A) The person knowingly makes or records a photograph, motion picture, videotape or other visual recording of another person’s intimate area without the consent of the other person; and
  • (B) The person being recorded has a reasonable expectation of privacy concerning the intimate area.”

HB 3047 // 2017

The last state drone law in Oregon is 2017’s HB 3047.

Under this law, drones cannot navigate over private property in a manner that’s considered to be harassing the property owner. 

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Local Drone Laws in Oregon

Oregon has a small collection of local drone laws, so let’s go over those now as well.

Oregon Metro Parks – Park Rules // 2018

The Oregon Metro Parks park rules make it quite clear that drones are prohibited from flying around the premises per 10.03.190 Scale Model Equipment, Drones Prohibited.

Here is the law in full for your perusal.

“As an owner of real property as described in ORS 837.380, Metro prohibits the use of unmanned aircraft systems (e.g. drones) on its Property. Within the boundaries of any Property, it is unlawful to:

  • Use or operate any power-propelled model rocket, drone aircraft, glider, wheeled or tracked vehicle or boat, except in areas specifically designated by Metro and posted for such use.
  • Launch drones from Metro Property or land drones on Metro Property.
  • Fly any drones at a height of less than 400 feet in the airspace above Metro Property land or water. Metro reserves its rights under ORS 837.380 to recover treble damages and attorney fees for any trespass or violation of this Section, as permitted by law.”

City of Portland – Municipal Law // 2007

Portland’s municipal law, passed in 2007, includes the section 20.12.180 Remote Control Vehicles, Aircraft and Watercraft.

In that section, drones are once again banned.

Here’s that section of the law in full: “No person shall operate any remote-controlled internal combustion powered vehicle, or any remote-controlled electric or internal combustion powered watercraft or aircraft, in, on or over any Park, except in such places the Director may designate for such use.”

Oregon Drone Law FAQs

Finally, we’ve compiled this handy FAQs section on drone usage in Oregon parks. It will help broaden your knowledge of the state’s drone laws.

Can You Fly a Drone in a Public Park in Oregon?

Public parks are a common sight in Oregon, such as Old Canemah Park, Barclay Hills City Park, Rivercrest Park, Clackamette Park, and Carver Park.

Should these parks fall under the jurisdiction of Oregon Metro Parks, then you’ll recall from the last section how drones are not allowed on the premises.

For public parks outside of Oregon Metro Parks, you should be able to fly your UAV. We recommend confirming that with the local parks and rec department before launching.

Can You Fly a Drone in a State Park in Oregon?

Oregon’s most popular state park may be Valley of the Rogues State Park, but there are many more still like Cape Arago State Park, Smith Rock State Park, Painted Hills State Park, and Fogarty Creek State Park.

According to a July 2022 article in the local Mail Tribune, drone pilots cannot take off or land a drone in any of the state parks throughout Oregon.

That said, the crux of the article was how Oregon Parks and Recreation was considering making drone usage legal in state parks. As of this writing, that does not yet appear to be the case.

Conclusion

Oregon is a beautiful state teeming with wildlife and nature preserves, but it has strict drone laws with steep punishments for disobeying.

This article will help you keep all the drone laws straight so you can avoid jail time and thousand-dollar fees!

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References:
HB 2710 (link)
SB 5702 (link)
HB 4066 (link)
Oregon Metro Parks park rules (link)
Portland’s municipal law (link)
Mail Tribune (link)