South Carolina is the home of Congaree National Park, Huntington Beach State Park, Brookgreen Gardens, the Morris Island Lighthouse, and many other natural attractions that you might wish to capture footage of with your drone.
Before you do, what are the drone laws in this state?
South Carolina has federal and state drone laws but no local laws. The federal laws require compliance with FAA’s Part 107 rules while the state laws pertain to flying a UAV around correctional facilities, which is outlawed without written permission.
Ahead, we’ll provide a comprehensive look into all of South Carolina’s drone rules so you can fly on the right side of the law each and every time. Make sure you keep reading!
To help, we’ve identified and reviewed the best drone courses for beginners and professionals.
Federal Drone Laws in South Carolina
As we always do, let’s jump right in by reviewing the federal drone laws that apply in South Carolina.
The United States government institutes these drone laws, which apply in every state in the country, South Carolina among them.
South Carolina’s federal drone laws apply to government, commercial, and hobbyist drone pilots. Let’s see how.
Agency Drone Pilots
Government or agency drone pilots who professionally use drones must either follow the Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 rules or obtain a Certificate of Authorization or COA.
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Commercial Drone Pilots
South Carolina federal drone law also requires commercial drone pilots to obey Part 107 rules.
The FAA mandates that commercial drone pilots carry a Remote Pilot Certificate, a license that denotes commercial status and grants permission to fly.
If you have this license, you must always carry it on your person.
What if you don’t yet have a Part 107 license? Then if you’re at least 16 years old, you can register to take the Part 107 exam for commercial pilots.
The Part 107 exam is a comprehensive test that requires a full depth of knowledge of all aspects of Part 107 rules.
You might be contemplating signing up for an online drone school to brush up on your Part 107 knowledge, which is certainly a great idea.
If you decide to do that, definitely check out our reviews of all the best online drone schools.
You’re given over two hours to complete the 60-questions on the Part 107 exam, which are all multiple-choice. The test is taken in person at a testing center.
Should you get a score of 70 percent or higher, then you’ll soon receive your Remote Pilot Certificate.
The Remote Pilot Certificate is not enough to fly commercially though. You also have to register your drone with the FAA for $5 per drone. The registration lasts for three years.
Getting back to the Remote Pilot Certificate for a moment, it expires after two years. Commercial pilots can now sign up for a free online license renewal test.
You can take this test from the comfort of your own home. As you do, any wrong answers are shown so you can go back and correct them.
You need to earn a 100 percent score to get your recertification, so don’t miss any wrong answers!
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Recreational Drone Pilots
Hobbyist or recreational drone pilots are subject to FAA Part 107 rules as well, according to South Carolina federal drone law.
You will have to register your drone with the FAA as well if it weighs 0.55 pounds and up. Toy drones that weigh less don’t require registration.
The registration duration and fee don’t change from commercial pilots to recreational pilots.
You too need a license when flying your drone recreationally, but it’s not the Remote Pilot Certificate. Instead, the license for hobbyists is known as the TRUST certificate.
TRUST is short for The Recreational UAS Safety Test, the exam you must pass if you want to earn your certificate.
The TRUST test is a lot easier than the Part 107 exam. It doesn’t cost you anything to register, and you can take the exam online at home (or wherever you wish).
The test includes more than 20 questions, and they are again multiple-choice.
If you answer a question correctly, you’ll know it right away. You’ll also know if you get an answer wrong, and you’re allowed to go back and correct it if you want to.
After completing the test, you’ll be sent your TRUST certificate in the mail. Keep the certificate handy and you never have to take the TRUST exam again. If you misplace the certificate, you will have to retest.
TRUST is a collaboration between the FAA and industry to provide TRUST and educational safety material to Recreational Flyers.
State Drone Laws in South Carolina
Next, let’s investigate the sole state drone law in South Carolina, which is Bill 176.
Bill 176 // 2017
Passed between 2017 and 2018, Bill 176 limits where drones can and cannot fly throughout the state.
In Section 24-1-300. (A), Bill 176 states that “Except as provided in subsection (D), a person shall not operate an unmanned aerial vehicle within a horizontal distance of five hundred feet or a vertical distance of two hundred fifty feet from any Department of Corrections facility without written consent from the Director of the Department of Corrections.”
Section 24-1-300. (B) makes it clear that violating (A) is a misdemeanor crime. You could spend up to 30 days in jail, pay a fine of $500, or possibly both.
Then, in Section 24-1-300. (C)(1), Bill 176 says that “In addition to the penalty provided in this section, an unmanned aerial vehicle involved in the violation of this section may be confiscated by the Department of Corrections. An unmanned aerial vehicle must not be disposed of in any manner until the results of any legal proceeding in which it may be involved are finally determined, or as otherwise required by Section 17-28-300, et seq.
Records must be kept of all confiscated unmanned aerial vehicles received by the Department of Corrections under the provisions of this section.
(2) Any unmanned aerial vehicle confiscated pursuant to this section shall be administratively released to an innocent owner. The unmanned aerial vehicle must not be released to the innocent owner until the results of any legal proceedings in which the unmanned aerial vehicle may be involved are finally determined, or as otherwise required by Section 17-28-300, et seq.”
Before you can get your drone back, you need to prove ownership as well as prove that “the innocent owner was neither a consenting party to nor had knowledge of the use of the unmanned aerial vehicle that made it subject to confiscation.”
You also have to agree not to release your drone “to the person who was charged with the violation of this section that resulted in the confiscation of the unmanned aerial vehicle.”
In Section 24-1-300. (D), some exceptions are listed. They include anyone “who registers with the Federal Aviation Administration as an operator of a commercial unmanned aerial vehicle; operates the vehicle for the purpose of monitoring, operating, maintaining or enhancing electric, communications, water conveyance, or transport infrastructure or determining if repairs to such infrastructure are necessary; and separately notifies the jail administrator of his designee no more than five days and no less than two hours prior to each operation of the vehicle, provided that the notification must include the registration number the Federal Aviation Administration has issued for the vehicle.”
Does South Carolina Have Anny Local Drone Laws?
Many states throughout the US do not have local drone laws, which simply means that no cities, towns, villages, or counties in the state have any ordinances, laws, or rules outlawing drone use.
That’s the case for South Carolina, which has no local drone laws that we were able to find.
The above federal and state drone laws do still apply, so a lack of local drone laws does not give pilots a free pass to do as they wish!
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South Carolina Drone Law FAQs
To address any further lingering concerns that you could still have, we’ve put together this valuable FAQs section about flying a drone in South Carolina parks.
Can You Fly a Drone in a Public Park in South Carolina?
Public parks are a great way to experience the beauty and wonder of South Carolina, which is why the state has so many.
They include the Isle of Palms County Park, Lake City Community Park, the Lake Murray Dam North Recreational Area, Fountain Park, Hargett Park, and Ebenezer Park.
We couldn’t find any instances of drones being restricted from flying in South Carolina’s public parks.
We would still caution you to contact the parks and rec association at the park you wish to fly in ahead of your visit to confirm the rules.
Should you be granted permission to fly, keep in mind that Part 107 rules still apply.
Can You Fly a Drone in a State Park in South Carolina?
Take the beauty and wonder of South Carolina and apply it on a grander scale at any of the state parks scattered throughout.
Andrew Jackson State Park, Lee State Park, Little Pee Dee State Park, Poinsett State Park, Cheraw State Park, and Myrtle Beach State Park are some of the most beloved parks in the state.
Just as public parks in this state welcome drone pilots, the same applies to state parks. No law or ordinance says otherwise.
Please be advised that that does not grant you free reign to fly. You need to always be considerate of others and obey Part 107 rules.
South Carolina is a state with few drone laws, only federal and statewide laws. You’re allowed to fly in public and state parks, which is a rare freedom if you’ve read the other posts in this series on drone laws across the USA.
Don’t abuse your privilege and always remember to follow FAA guidelines when flying!
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.
Bill 176 (link)