All states in the US have their corresponding laws and regulations when it comes to flying drones. Federal drone laws apply to all countries in the US, including Illinois, and were made by the federal government. This is important because everyone needs to be made aware that drone flying cannot be done anywhere, anytime. There are laws about it, and everybody is expected to adhere to and respect such rules.

In order to be flying a drone as a commercial pilot in the state of Illinois for work or business purposes, you are mandated by law to adhere to the regulations of Part 107 Small UAS rule of the FAA, which includes passing the Aeronautical Knowledge Test so you can obtain your Remote Pilot Certificate.

For flying a drone as a hobbyist for personal pleasure, you must follow the FAA's recreational model aircraft regulations. One of the rules is that your drone should not weigh more than 250 grams. If it does, you have to pay a registration fee of $5. Other rules are specified for altitude and airspace so ensure that your drone is within the line of sight while airborne.

In the capacity of a government employee working for the state like in the police or fire department, you have the option to operate a drone under the FAA's Part 107 guideline or acquire a federal Certificate of Authorization.

Chicago State Drone Laws

These drone laws apply to the entire state of Illinois and were made by the Illinois General Assembly. According to the State General Assembly and the Illinois Department of Transportation, there are state-wide laws about using drones in the entire state.

SB 2937 – this law relaxes the regulations around the use of UAS by law enforcement agencies in times of disaster or public health crisis. Additionally, it creates guidelines on how law enforcement can get and use information gathered from a private individual's use of drones. This law also mandates law enforcement to adhere to warrant protocols to make third parties to share information. Should the information be proactively provided to police, the authorities should follow the law of the state about drone data retention and disclosure.

SB 1587 – this law permits drones to be utilized by law enforcement with a warrant to counter a terrorist attack, to prevent any harm to life, and to prevent an imminent escape of a suspect. If the law enforcement uses a drone, it should destroy all information gathered by the aircraft within 30 days. Still, a supervisor may hold on to specific details if there is sensible doubt that it holds criminal activity evidence.

SB 3291 – this law states that the state of Illinois has exclusive authority when it comes to passing drone laws. This leaves cities both big and small as well as towns, and other boroughs may not pass protocols or restrictions on the use of drones. There is, though, a special exemption for municipalities whose resident count is more than 1,000,000.

HB 1652 – this law prohibits a person from using drones to interfere with the activities of hunters and fishermen.

Illinois Local Drone Laws

These are just some of the drone laws specific to certain cities, regions, and counties in the state of Illinois.

Municipal Law – City of Evanston

This city ordinance institutes a moratorium on the use of drones till the passing of national, state, and federal regulations.

Municipal Law – City of Chicago

The Chicago drone laws of 2017 have several drone-related ordinances when it comes to use by ordinary citizens. These include:

  • Drones can only be flown for recreational purposes.
  • It is illegal to fly a drone directly over private property without consent from the owner.
  • It is illegal to use a drone as a weapon.
  • Drones cannot interfere with human-crewed aircraft, or can it fly within 5 miles of the airport.
  • Drones are not allowed to fly at night.
  • It cannot fly over any open-air gatherings, schoolyards, hospital, place of praise and worship, police station, and correctional facilities without due consent from the property's owner.
  • When it comes to water intake facilities, electricity generating facilities, control centers, or substations, drones cannot be flown within 500 feet of such areas.
  • It is not permitted to fly within 100 feet of any electric transmission facility or within 25 feet of any electric distribution facility or any overhead wire, conveyor, cable, or similar equipment used for sound and signal transmission, light, power, data, and heat.
  • It is not allowed to fly along or any public way within the city without the facility or equipment owner's approval. It is subject to restrictions when the facility is operating.

County Ordinance – McHenry County Conservation District

This county decree bans drones from operating within any property possessed by the district lacking the Executive Director's prior written consent.