Arizona UAS Laws

Note on Federal vs State Laws:

Federal airspace laws take precedence over state drone laws. If a state or local law directly conflicts with FAA regulations, the state or local law is likely to be invalidated. 


Arizona’s law uses the terms model aircraft, civil unmanned aircraft, and public unmanned aircraft to describe drones as used for different purposes.

Model aircraft:  an unmanned aircraft that is “capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and flown for hobby or recreational purposes.” (Hobby)

Civil unmanned aircraft: “an unmanned aircraft or unmanned

aircraft system that is operated by a person for any purpose other than strictly for hobby or recreational purposes, including commercial purposes, or in the furtherance of or incidental to any business or media service or agency.” (Commercial)

Public unmanned aircraft: an unmanned aircraft “operated by

a public agency for a government-related purpose.” (Government/Law Enforcement)

Unmanned aircraft: “an aircraft, including an aircraft commonly known as a drone, that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.”

Critical facility” means any of the following:

  • A petroleum or alumina refinery.
  • A petroleum, chemical or rubber production, transportation, storage or processing facility.
  • A chemical manufacturing facility.
  • A water or wastewater treatment facility and water development, distribution or conveyance system, including a dam.
  • An electric generation facility, as defined in section 42-14156, and any associated substation or switchyard.
  • An electrical transmission or distribution substation.
  • An electrical transmission line of at least sixty-nine thousand volts.
  • An electronic communication station or tower.
  • An energy control center.
  • A distribution operating center.
  • A facility that transfers or distributes natural gas, including a compressor station, regulator station, city gate station or pressure limiting station or a liquefied natural gas facility or supplier tap facility.
  • Any railroad infrastructure or facility.
  • A federal, state, county or municipal court.
  • A public safety or emergency operation facility.
  • A federal, state, county or municipal jail or prison or other facility in which persons are incarcerated.
  • A federal or state military installation or facility.
  • A hospital that receives air ambulance services.

Statutes/Bills (passed):

13-3729. - Unlawful operation of model or unmanned aircraft; state preemption; classification; definitions

The operation of a model aircraft or civil unmanned aircraft is a class 1 misdemeanor if it is:

  1. prohibited by federal law or regulation, including FAA regulations
  2. Interferes with the operation of law enforcement, firefighters, or emergency services.

Class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious misdemeanor offense and is punishable by up to 6 months in jail, 3 years of probation and a $2,500 fine plus surcharges.

The operation or use of an unmanned aircraft to photograph or linger over or near a critical facility in the furtherance of a crime is a class 6 felony, except that a second or subsequent violation is a class 5 felony.

Class 6 felonies are punishable up to 2 years in prison.

28-8242. - Powers and duties

28-8280. - Careless or reckless aircraft operation; violation; classification; definitions

A person who operates an aircraft (model aircraft and civil unmanned aircraft) in the air, on the ground or on the water in a careless or reckless manner that endangers the life or property of another is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.

In determining whether the operation was careless or reckless, the court shall consider the standards for safe operation of aircraft prescribed by federal statutes or regulations governing aeronautics.