An east coast gem, New Jersey offers beaches, forests, boardwalks, and rock formations, making it an attractive state for drone pilots. The proximity to New York and Philadelphia also can’t be beat.
You want to stay on the right side of the law, so what drone laws are in play in New Jersey?
New Jersey has federal, state, and local drone laws that all pilots must follow.
Federal laws ensure drone usage according to FAA Part 107 rules, state laws bar drones from infrastructure and state parks, and local laws prohibit drones from being flown in many cities and towns.
New Jersey has many, many drone laws, so there’s a lot more information we have for you in this article.
Whether you live here and you just got into drones or you’re merely visiting, you’re not going to want to miss the info ahead!
Federal Drone Laws in New Jersey
Let’s start by reviewing New Jersey’s federal drone laws.
Like all states throughout the United States, New Jersey has a series of federal laws for agency, commercial, and recreational drone pilots.
These laws are instated by the US government.
Agency Drone Pilots
Government employees, aka agency drone pilots, include law enforcement officers, fire departments, and the like that use drones in a professional capacity.
You should follow the Part 107 drone rules as established by the Federal Aviation Administration or obtain a federal authorization known as a Certificate of Authorization.
Commercial Drone Pilots
Commercial drone pilots, under New Jersey federal drone law, are also subject to FAA Part 107 rules when operating a drone in the state.
FAA rules mandate that commercial drone pilots hold a Remote Pilot Certificate when flying. You should always have this certificate, also known as the Part 107 license, on your person.
If you have yet to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate, then you must sign up to take the Part 107 exam before you fly your drone commercially.
The Part 107 exam is an official FAA test that includes 60 challenging multiple-choice questions in all areas of the Part 107 rules. Registering to take the exam costs a fee, as does any retake you need.
Fortunately, you can always enroll in an online drone school so you don’t have to contend with too many retakes.
Many online drone schools offer money-back guarantees if you don’t pass the Part 107 exam the first time around.
How do you pass, anyway? You need to answer 70 percent of the questions correctly at least. Then you’ll receive your Remote Pilot Certificate in the mail.
Renewing your Remote Pilot Certificate is now easier than ever. You can take a free online exam that showcases any answers that you get wrong as you take the test.
That’s a good thing, too, since you need a perfect score to recertify!
Oh, don’t forget to register your drone through the FAA for $5. The registration lasts for three years.
Recreational Drone Pilots
As a recreational drone pilot, New Jersey federal drone law requires you to follow Part 107 rules when flying your drone.
You also have to register your drone for $5 with the FAA, but only if the drone weighs 0.55 pounds or over. If it’s under 0.55 pounds, it’s probably a toy drone and needn’t be registered.
Your drone registration lasts for three years.
You also have to take an FAA test known as The Recreational UAS Safety Test or TRUST test.
Like the test for renewing a commercial drone pilot’s Remote Pilot Certificate, the TRUST test is free to take and available online. You’re also shown wrong answers along the way so you can go back and change them if you wish.
A perfect score isn’t required for the TRUST test, but if you can get one, you might as well. Then you’ll receive your TRUST certificate, which you should always have handy when flying recreationally.
State Drone Laws in New Jersey
Next, let’s go over the two state drone laws in effect in New Jersey.
New Jersey State Park Service Policy // 2015
Passed in 2015, the New Jersey State Park Service Policy was created to promote consistent drone usage on lands managed by the Division of Parks and Forestry and the State Park Service.
Here’s the policy in full: “The operation of a UAV is hereby specifically prohibited within all lands and waters administered by the State Park Service unless specifically approved by the Assistant Director, State Park Service in accordance with N.J.A.C. 7:2-1.4(b).”
There are some exceptions, as “search and rescue organizations, fire fighting and law enforcement agencies, other governmental and first-response agencies” can possibly fly a drone in New Jersey State Park Service lands if they have permission and a schedule to fly.
Accredited universities may also be granted drone usage permission, but commercial and recreational drone pilots are barred without a permit.
SB 3370 // 2017
The other New Jersey state drone law is SB 3370.
This drone law, which was passed in 2017, was introduced to regulate drone usage in the state.
According to SB 3370, you could be charged with a disorderly persons offense if you use your drone in the following manners:
“1) knowingly or intentionally in a manner that endangers the life or property of another;
2) to take or assist in the taking of wildlife;
3) while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug or with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by the weight of alcohol.”
Should you be caught breaking the law, you could face a $1,000 fine or six months in jail and possibly even both.
Further, SB 3370 declares it a fourth-degree crime for you to do the following with your drone:
“1) create or maintain a condition that endangers the safety or security of a correctional facility or operating a drone on the premises of or in close proximity to the facility; and
2) operate a drone in a manner that interferes with a first responder who is actively engaged in response or air, water, vehicular, ground, or specialized transport.”
If you are guilty of a fourth-degree crime, you could be charged with a fine of $10,000, a prison sentence of 18 months, or both.
There’s yet more. SB 3370 bans drone pilots from “hindering or preventing the lawful taking of wildlife” with their UAVs and makes it illegal to violate “a restraining order or any other court order restraining contact with a person or location for a person who is subject to that order to operate a drone within a distance of a person or location that would violate the order.”
Local Drone Laws in New Jersey
New Jersey has a laundry list of local drone laws in various counties, cities, towns, and villages. Here’s all the info you need.
Essex County – Park Ordinance // 2020
In Essex County, a park ordinance passed in 2020 now makes it illegal to use a drone on any county-owned and managed property.
Palisades Interstate Park Commission – Park Ordinance // 2019
If you plan on visiting Palisades Interstate Park, you’ll have to do so without your drone.
The park ordinance says this on drone usage: “Flying of drones or radio-controlled aircraft is not allowed in the park.”
Long Beach Township – Township Code // 2015
Long Beach Township is a popular vacation destination in New Jersey. Unsurprisingly then, the township code limits the usage of drones.
The code states that drone pilots are not allowed to take off or land on township property or fly “in any airspace within 400 feet of the ground and structures in the Township.”
You also cannot fly your drone “in a reckless, dangerous, harassing, or threatening manner.”
Agency drone pilots like law enforcement are allowed to use drones not pursuant to the law.
Wayne Township – Township Code // 1989
Wayne Township’s township code outlaws drone pilots from flying in any area in a township park that isn’t marked as designated for drones.
Middlesex County – County Ordinance
Throughout Middlesex County, the county ordinance prohibits drone pilots from flying in areas outside of those that the Director of County Parks and Recreation has marked as designated UAV areas.
Passaic County – County Ordinance // 2019
Since 2019, the county ordinance in Passaic County has made it illegal for drones to fly over or on park property. The only exception is if you hold a Passaic County Parks Department permit.
Borough of Franklin Lakes – Municipal Ordinance // 2016
In the municipal ordinance for the Borough of Franklin Lakes, Chapter 137 Aircraft, Small Unmanned, §137-3 Regulations; restrictions., the ordinance reads as follows: “Small unmanned aircraft shall not operate in any airspace below 400 feet within the Borough:
- Over private property, without the permission of the private property owner;
- Over any street;
- Over any Borough building, without the permission of the Mayor and Council;
- Between dusk and dawn; and
- Over any persons not directly participating in the operation of the aircraft, or where there are persons not directly participating in the operation of the aircraft located within 100 feet of the perimeter of the area over which the aircraft is being operated.”
This ordinance does not apply to municipal agencies on a countywide, statewide, or federal level such as emergency services and law enforcement.
East Bay Regional Parks – Municipal Ordinance // 2016
The East Bay Regional Park District’s municipal ordinance, in Section 409. – Miscellaneous Regulated Activities, 409.3, bars the operation of “self-propelled (motor driven) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS aka ‘drone’) model aircraft, boats, automobiles, or other model craft of any kind or description, or fly any UAS closer than 500 feet above District parklands, as defined by Federal Regulations.”
City of Ventnor – Municipal Ordinance // 2016
Ventnor’s municipal ordinance, according to §107-2. Regulations, bars unmanned aircraft and drones from launching or landing on public and government parks, property, or buildings in the city.
The only exception is if you were granted written permission by the Ventnor City Chief of Police to fly a drone “for a special event or City sponsored event.”
You also cannot fly a drone “under 400 feet over any government or public buildings, property, or parks within the City” without written permission.
The same goes for flying a drone around a beach between May 31st and September 1st in airspace under 400 feet.
Municipal, county, state, and federal agencies are exempt from the municipal ordinance.
Chatham Township – Municipal Ordinance // 2015
In Chatham Township, the municipal ordinance states that you cannot operate a drone in any public airspace below 400 feet.
Bernards Township – Municipal Law // 2015
Bernards Township’s municipal law prohibits drone pilots from flying over any recreational facility or park in the township.
Ramapo Indian Hills – Municipal Law // 2016
The municipal law in Ramapo Indian Hills makes it illegal to fly a drone over or on school grounds in the area.
New Jersey Drone Law FAQs
As we wrap up, we want to make clear the park policies on drone usage in New Jersey, so let’s discuss that in this FAQs section.
Can You Fly a Drone in a Public Park in New Jersey?
New Jersey is the home to some pretty extraordinary public parks, including Lincoln Park, Mill Hill Park, John A. Roebling Memorial Park, Van Vorst Park, and Crystal Lake Park.
Are you allowed to visit these and other New Jersey public parks with your drone?
That depends on where the park is located. If it’s in a city, town, county, or township with a municipal ordinance or policy that bars drone usage, then no. You would need a permit to be granted permission to fly.
Since New Jersey has so many local drone laws, we highly recommend calling a local parks and rec association to confirm the rules before you fly.
Can You Fly a Drone in a State Park in New Jersey?
Scattered throughout New Jersey are state parks aplenty such as Washington Crossing State Park, Liberty State Park, Cheesequake State Park, Allaire State Park, Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, Hopatcong State Park, and Washington Rock State Park.
However, the New Jersey State Park Service bans drone usage on all waters and lands this organization manages. As you’ll recall, you’d need permission from the State Park Service Assistant Director.
New Jersey is a naturally breathtaking state with lots of lands to explore. Most of those lands are tightly protected by federal, state, and local drone laws.
With steep punishments of jail time and expensive fines, it’s worth it to stay on the right side of the law!
FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Test Prep
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.
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New Jersey State Park Service Policy (link)
SB 3370 (link)
Essex County park ordinance (link)
Palisades Interstate Park ordinance (link)
Township of Long Beach, NJ (link)
Wayne Township code (link)
Middlesex County ordinance (link)
Passaic County ordinance (link)
Borough of Franklin Lakes (link)
East Bay Regional Park District (link)
Ventnor municipal ordinance (link)