Drone Laws in South Carolina

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the State of South Carolina

Federal Aviation Administration

FAA Drone Website: https://www.faa.gov/uas/

Updated January 4, 2022


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in South Carolina

Drone operation in the State of South Carolina is broadly governed by The Federal USA agency responsible for drone safety, the FAA. Click here for details on FAA USA Drone Laws.

In addition, the South Carolina State legislature has enacted several supplemental rules specific to South Carolina drone operations. The highlights are enumerated below.

Are drones allowed in South Carolina?

Drones are allowed in South Carolina for recreational and commercial use, subject to FAA regulations and flight controls put in place by local governments. Read on for details.

Specific additional drone use laws by South Carolina legislature

Act No. 184 Drones, unlawful operation at corrections and local detention facilities

SECTION    1.    Chapter 1, Title 24 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 24-1-300.

(A)    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.

(B)    A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

(C)(1)    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. Upon conviction, pursuant to a violation of this section, the relevant unmanned aerial vehicle shall be transferred to the State Law Enforcement Division to use within the agency for any lawful purpose or for destruction, unless otherwise provided in 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 the unmanned aerial vehicle may be released, the innocent owner shall provide the Department of Corrections with proof of ownership; shall certify that the innocent owner neither was a consenting party to nor had knowledge of the use of the unmanned aerial vehicle that made it subject to confiscation; and shall certify that the innocent owner will not release the unmanned aerial vehicle to the person who was charged with the violation of this section that resulted in the confiscation of the unmanned aerial vehicle. The Department of Corrections shall notify the innocent owner when the unmanned aerial vehicle is available for release. If the innocent owner fails to recover the unmanned aerial vehicle within thirty days after notification of the release, the Department of Corrections may use the unmanned aerial vehicle within the agency for any lawful purpose or destroy it.

(D)    The provisions of this section do not apply to any person 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 transportation infrastructure or determining if repairs to such infrastructure are necessary; and separately notifies the Director of the Department of Corrections or his designee no more than five days and no less 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.”

SECTION    2.    Article 1, Chapter 5, Title 24 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 24-5-175.

(A)    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 local detention facility without written consent from the jail administrator.

(B)    A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

(C)(1)    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 jail administrator of a local detention facility. 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 jail administrator under the provisions of this section. Upon conviction, pursuant to a violation of this section, the relevant unmanned aerial vehicle shall be transferred to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to use within the agency for any lawful purpose or for destruction, unless otherwise provided in 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 the unmanned aerial vehicle may be released, the innocent owner shall provide the jail administrator with proof of ownership; shall certify that the innocent owner neither was a consenting party to nor had knowledge of the use of the unmanned aerial vehicle that made it subject to the confiscation; and shall certify that the innocent owner will not release the unmanned aerial vehicle to the person who was charged with the violation of this section that resulted in the confiscation of the unmanned aerial vehicle. The jail administrator shall notify the innocent owner when the unmanned aerial vehicle is available for release. If the innocent owner fails to recover the unmanned aerial vehicle within thirty days after notification of the release, the local detention facility may use the unmanned aerial vehicle within the agency for any lawful purpose or destroy it.

(D)    The provisions of this section do not apply to any person 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 transportation infrastructure or determining if repairs to such infrastructure are necessary; and separately notifies the jail administrator or his designee no more than five days and no less 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.”

SECTION    3.    Chapter 1, Title 24 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 24-1-310.

The Department of Corrections shall petition the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to designate any local detention facility, or State or federal correctional facility in the State as a fixed site facility within ninety days of the effective date of this section, pursuant to rules and regulations adopted pursuant to Section 2209 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, Public Law No. 114-190. The department shall follow all guidance from the FAA in submitting and processing the petition. The South Carolina Aeronautics Commission shall publish designations by the FAA in accordance with this act on the commission’s website.”

SECTION    4.    Chapter 1, Title 24 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 24-1-320.

To promote harmonization and air safety, the Department of Corrections and local detention facilities shall provide the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission a list of designated sites or facilities, and shall provide the commission with the unmanned aerial vehicle boundary in electronic format (ARGIS or AutoCAD) necessary to display the information within the Geographical Information Systems formats utilized by the commission within thirty days of the effective date of this section, and the commission shall publish the designated sites or facilities’ information on the commission’s website.”

Specific additional UAV laws by local governments within South Carolina

Counties or towns within South Carolina may have specific restrictions within their jurisdictions. We recommend checking the local jurisdiction for the latest regulations.

UAS operation rules in Parks, Recreation and Cultural Preserves

No specific drone laws regarding parks within South Carolina were found at the time of our search. We recommend checking the local jurisdiction for the latest regulations.

Specific additional UAV laws laws in Jurisdictions within South Carolina

Counties or towns within South Carolina may have specific restrictions within their jurisdictions. We recommend checking the local jurisdiction for the latest regulations.


Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in South Carolina

If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly recreationally by following the Drone Laws in the USA defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines.

Recreational UAS operations (i.e., flying for recreational purposes) in South Carolina are approved under Federal law, specifically the FAA Part 107. Please check the specific state jurisdiction for additional permissions, licensing, or clearance requirements.

Following these rules will keep you and your drone safe and will help keep the airspace available to everyone.

  1. Fly only for recreational purposes (enjoyment). 
  2. Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization (CBO). Note: We have not yet begun officially recognizing CBOs. Recreational flyers should follow the safety guidelines of existing aeromodelling organizations or use the FAA-provided safety guidelines per Advisory Circular 91-57B.
  3. Keep your drone within the visual line of sight or use a co-located visual observer (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
  4. Give way to and do not interfere with crewed aircraft.
  5. Fly at or below 400′ in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and E) with prior authorization by using LAANC or DroneZone.
  6. Fly at or below 400 feet in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace. Note: Drone flights may be prohibited in certain airspace or may require FAA authorization. A drone pilot can find navigable airspace, other Classes of airspace, and flying restrictions on our B4UFLY app or the UAS Facility Maps webpage.
  7. Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage.
  8. Have a current registrationmark (PDF) your drones on the outside with the registration number, and carry proof of registration with you. For recreational flyers, the FAA does not require you to register or mark a drone which weighs less than 0.55 lbs (250 grams).
  9. Do not dangerously operate your drone. For example:
    • Do not interfere with emergency response or law enforcement activities.
    • Do not fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
    • Avoid flying near or over critical infrastructure.

Recreational drone pilots should know that if they intentionally violate any of these safety requirements and/or operate their drone flight carelessly or recklessly, they could be liable for criminal and/or civil penalties.


Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in South Carolina

If you have a small unmanned aircraft that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly for work or business by following the Drone Laws in the USA defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines.

Commercial drone operations in South Carolina are approved under the FAA Part 107. Please check the specific state jurisdiction for additional permissions, licensing, or clearance requirements.

There are three main steps drone owners must follow To fly under Part 107 rules:

Step 1: Learn the Rules

  1. Make sure you understand what is and is not allowed under Part 107 rules. Review a summary of the Part 107 rules (PDF). Still unsure if Part 107 rules work for you and your intended UAS operation? Check the FAA user identification tool.
  2. Some operations are not covered by Part 107 and will require a waiver. Here are some common examples of Part 107 sections that are subject to waiver:
    • Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft (§ 107.25) *
    • Daylight operation (§ 107.29)
    • Visual line of sight aircraft operation (§ 107.31) *
    • Visual observer (§ 107.33)
    • Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems (§ 107.35)
    • Yielding the right of way (§ 107.37(a))
    • Operation over people (§ 107.39)
    • Operation in certain airspace (§ 107.41)
    • Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft (§ 107.51) 
    • *The FAA will not waive this section to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
    • If your operation will require a waiver, read about the Part 107 Waiver application process.
  3. Commercial Drone Pilots should avoid flying near airports because it is difficult for manned aircraft to see and avoid a drone while flying. Remember that the UAS operator must avoid crewed aircraft and are responsible for any safety hazard their drone creates in an airport environment. Read more about flying near airports.

Step 2: Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test

  1. To be eligible to get your Drone License (Remote Pilot Certificate), you must be:
    • At least 16 years old
    • Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
    • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS
  2. Review the entire process to get your Drone License or Remote Pilot Certificate.
  3. Study for the Knowledge Test by reviewing the Test Prep materials provided by the FAA.
  4. Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile before registering for a knowledge test.
  5. Schedule an appointment to take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.
  6. Once you’ve passed your test, complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)*
  7. You are now eligible to operate as a commercial drone pilot

Step 3: Register your drone with the FAA

  • Registration costs $5 and is valid for three years. You’ll need a credit or debit card and the make and model of your drone handy to register.
  • Visit dronezone.faa.gov and select “Fly sUAS under Part 107” to create an account and register your drone.
  • Once you’ve registered, mark your drone (PDF) with your registration number if it gets lost or stolen.

Commercial rules in Parks, Recreation and Cultural reserves

We suggest you contact the local parks agencies and check for specific permissions required.


Useful published information on flying drones in South Carolina

We have partnered with the FAA and other drone enthusiasts in supporting an internet educational campaign called Know Before You Fly. The tips, pointers, and resources apply to South Carolina Drone Users also. Please visit the site for additional information: Know Before You Fly

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International – Mostly for commercial drone service providers and users.

Academy of Model Aeronautics – Mostly for hobbyists

NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model aircraft, toy aircraft, Remote controlled aircraft, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.


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IMPORTANT NOTE

The content on this site (The latest Drone Laws/Drone Regulations) is collated by volunteers from public general information. This material is not presented as legal advice of any kind, and we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. Do not substitute the information you find here for legal advice from a licensed attorney who is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction. When in doubt, contact the local aviation authority responsible for drone safety, utilize a licensed drone service operator, and/or consult a qualified attorney.

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