Drone Laws in South Dakota

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the State of South Dakota

Federal Aviation Administration

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

Updated February 19, 2022


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in South Dakota

Drone operation in the State of South Dakota 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 Dakota State legislature has enacted several supplemental rules specific to South Dakota drone operations. The highlights are enumerated below.

Are drones allowed in South Dakota?

Drones are allowed in South Dakota 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 Dakota legislature

Senate Bill SB 22 // 2017

This law states that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that weigh less than 55lbs (25kg) are exempt from aircraft registration requirements.

Senate Bill SB 80 (2017)

All drones and other UAS operations must comply with FAA requirements under this law. It prohibits drones from flying over military and correctional facilities. Failure to comply results in a Class 1 misdemeanor. UAS pilots who use unmanned aircraft to transport and deliver contraband to correctional facilities can be convicted of a class 6 felony.

SB 80 modifies illegal surveillance crime to include drones used to spy on people in places where they should assume a reasonable expectation of privacy. That includes photographing, filming, and recording unsuspected persons in a private location without their knowledge. The law also states drone operators must not land UAVs on private property without consent.

22-21-1.  – Trespassing to eavesdrop–Installation or use of unauthorized eavesdropping device–Drones.

Any person who, except as authorized by law:

  1. Trespasses on property with intent to subject anyone to eavesdropping or other surveillance in a private place;
  2. Installs in any private place, without the consent of the person or persons entitled to privacy there, any device for observing, photographing, recording, amplifying, or broadcasting sounds or events in such place, or uses any such unauthorized installation;
  3. Intentionally uses a drone to photograph, record, or otherwise observe another person in a private place where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy; or
  4. Lands a drone on the lands or waters of another resident provided the resident owns the land beneath the water body in its entirety without the owner’s consent, except in the case of forced landing and the owner or lessee of the drone will be liable for any damage resulting from a forced landing;

is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Subdivisions (2) and (3) do not apply to law enforcement officers, or to those acting under the direction of a law enforcement officer, while engaged in the performance of the officer’s lawful duties. These restrictions do not apply to a drone operator operating a drone for commercial or agricultural purposes pursuant to or in compliance with federal aviation administration regulations, authorizations, and exemptions nor do they apply to an emergency management worker operating a drone within the scope of the worker’s duties.

50-11-9.1. – Certain unmanned aircraft are exempt from registration.

Exempts UAS that weigh less than 55 pounds from aircraft registration requirements.

50-15-1.  – Drone defined.

50-15-2.  Compliance with federal requirements–Exemption from the chapter.

Any operation of a drone in the state shall comply with all applicable federal aviation administration requirements. Any drone operating under the authority of the Armed Forces of the United States, including the National Guard, is exempt from this chapter.

50-15-3. – Authorization required to operate a drone over certain facilities–Violation as misdemeanor.

No person may operate a drone over the grounds of a prison, correctional facility, jail, juvenile detention facility, or any military facility unless expressly authorized by the administrator thereof. A violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

50-15-4.– Prohibited delivery of contraband or controlled substance–Felony.

Any person who uses a drone to deliver contraband or controlled substances to a state prison or other correctional facility is guilty of a Class 6 felony in addition to the penalty for the principal offense.

50-15-5. Eavesdropping–Violation of privacy–Misdemeanor.

No person may, except as authorized by law, intentionally use a drone to photograph, record, or otherwise observe another person in a private place where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. A person who violates this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

This section does not apply to:

  1. Law enforcement officers, or to those acting under the direction of a law enforcement officer, while engaged in the performance of the officer’s lawful duties;
  2. A drone operator operating a drone for bona fide business or bona fide government purposes who unintentionally or incidentally photographs, records, or otherwise observes another person in a private place; or
  3. A designated emergency management worker operating a drone within the scope of the worker’s duties.

50-15-6. Trespassing–Drone–Misdemeanor.

No person may, except as authorized by law, land a drone on the real property or the waters of a landowner who owns the real property beneath the water body, without the landowner’s consent. It is an affirmative defense if the landing was a forced landing, but in the case of a forced landing, the owner or lessee of the drone remains liable for any damage resulting from a forced landing. A person who violates this section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Specific additional UAV laws by local governments within South Dakota

City of Aberdeen | Municipal Law (2016)

Only hobby and recreational drone operations are permitted in city airspace under this ordinance when it’s safe to do so. Restricted areas are within one mile (5,280ft) of the city’s regional airport and within a 10,000ft non-precision approach to the airport’s runways.

Other counties or towns within South Dakota 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 Dakota 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 Dakota

Counties or towns within South Dakota 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 Dakota

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 Dakota 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 Dakota

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 Dakota 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 Dakota

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 Dakota 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.


Traveling with a Drone?

Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide For Traveling With A Drone



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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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