Updated: Jun 5
By 2030 our skies will be bustling with nearly 10 million unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). As recreational and commercial users continue using drones, federal and local laws will evolve and mature to keep pace with the market.
Here are the laws and reguations you need to know before you start flying professionally or for fun. Keep up to date on all the your local drone regulations to avoid penalties and keep the public safe.
Federal Drone Laws in Colorado
To operate a drone in Colorado, even for recreational or hobby use, pilots must prove their aeronautical knowledge and safety awareness by passing the TRUST exam.
What is the TRUST exam?
To comply with federal regulations, all pilots must pass the "Recreational UAS Safety Test" (TRUST) exam. Pilots must provide proof that they have passed this exam whenever requested by FAA staff or law enforcement personnel.
Where to take the TRUST exam.
Drone Laws in Colorado
Colorado lawmakers have a detailed list of drone laws that ensure the safety and privacy of all citizens across the state. The rules, enacted by the General Assembly, provide strict guidelines for anyone flying drones in Colorado.
Table of Contents:
1. What are the restrictions on flying drones in Colorado?
The Colorado General Assembly and the Colorado Department of Transportation and Parks & Wildlife have established two official state drone usage regulations.
HB17-1070: Study Drone Use By Public Safety Agencies - This law helps to integrate drones into local and state governmental functions, such as firefighting, search and rescue efforts, accident reconstruction documentation, etc.
Colorado State Parks Regulation #100-c.24 (PDF) // 2018 - This law forbids drones from being used in Colorado State Parks unless specially authorized. Specified locations, like Cherry Creek State Park and Chatfield State Park, have designated areas for the operation of drones.
2. What happens if you violate Colorado's drone laws?
The FAA can inflict hefty civil penalties - a maximum of $32,666 per instance! Criminal and local sanctions are not ruled out either; those convicted may face a fine of up to $250,000 and/or incarceration for three years.
3. Can you fly a drone over someone's property without their permission?
Despite the general belief that it is illegal, federal law does not impede the act of flying over another individual's property. However, some local municipalities have specific laws in place. That is why it is crucial to research local regulations before flying.
4. How high can you fly a drone in Colorado?
5. Which Colorado cities don't allow drones?
In general, the State of Colorado has very few drone laws. But some cities* have extensive laws. Check each city's laws before flying. Here are some examples of cities to look out for:
Cherry Hills Village, CO: All drone operators must register their devices with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Telluride, CO: You can't fly without express prior written authorization from the Town Manager.
Denver, CO: Restricts the usage of ANY airborne object, such as drones, in any park.
Boulder, CO: Requires a permit unless permitted by signs posted in designated areas.
Lakewood, CO: A permit must be obtained at least 2 days prior. You can apply here for a drone permit.
*These laws are constantly changed and were last updated in January 2023
6. How high can you fly drones in the mountains?
Piloting a drone in hilly or mountainous terrain requires the same vigilance and adherence to regulations as at any other altitude. Drone operators must remain within 400 feet of the ground but always double-check for additional restrictions before taking off.
7. Can you use drones for hunting or fishing?
It is strictly prohibited to use a drone for the purpose of locating or observing wildlife, as such activities are deemed unlawful in aid of hunting and fishing.
8. How old do you have to be to fly a drone legally in colorado?
You must be at least 16 years old to become an FAA-certified pilot. Generally, toy drones are intended for ages 8 and up, but it is ultimately up to the parent's discretion when introducing their kids to drones.
9. Can you fly a drone at night in Colorado?
Drone pilots certified under Part 107 can have the opportunity to fly at night, over people and moving vehicles, provided they meet safety requirements. Airspace authorization must be obtained prior to flight for such operations to take place.
10. How do I report a drone violation in Colorado?
Dangerous drone operations should be swiftly reported to local law enforcement. Doing so can protect your community and help prevent the continuation of illegal activities.
You may also report violations to your local Flight Standards District Offices (FSDO). Colorado's FSDO may be contacted here:
Colorado Flight Standards District Office Contact Information
Phone: (800) 847-3808
Address: 26805 East 68th Avenue, Denver, CO 80249
Staying on top of Colorado's drone regulations can be challenging as the industry expands and new municipal governments create their own rules. Email email@example.com if you encounter any changes we may have missed. As a trusted source for sUAS information in this ever-evolving field, it is important that our list remains current!