Can I Fly Drone Over a Prison? A Handy Guide


Are you planning on flying a drone over a prison?

Before you take off, it’s important to know whether or not it’s legal to do so. The rules and regulations regarding drone flight can vary depending on the location, so it’s important to do your research beforehand.

In this article, I’ll answer the question: can you fly a drone over a prison?

In short, the answer is NO! You cannot fly drones over a prison due to safety and security concerns.

The laws around drone flight can be complex. So, I’ll also let you know about FAA regulations, security concerns, permissions needed, and penalties (if any) so that you’re fully informed.

Can I Fly Drone Over a Prison

FAA Regulations on Flying Drones Over a Prison

Due to the following FAA regulations, you are not allowed to fly drones over a prison:

  1. The FAA has established temporary Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) specific flight restrictions under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) §99.7 – “Special Security Instructions” to address concerns about drone operations over national security sensitive facilities, including prisons.
  2. Drone flights are restricted up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of federal facilities such as the Administrative United States Penitentiary Thomson near Clinton, IL. The list of restricted locations can be found in the FAA Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and on the FAA’s interactive map and B4UFLY mobile app.
  3. There are only a few exceptions that permit drone flights within these restrictions, and they must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA. Violations of the flight restriction may result in enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.
  4. The FAA is continuing to consider additional requests from eligible federal security agencies for UAS-specific flight restrictions using the Agency’s §99.7 authority and will announce any changes to these restrictions as appropriate.


Security Concerns

Flying a drone over a prison comes with its own set of unique security concerns, which are worth considering before launching your drone. Here are some potential security concerns to keep in mind.

Security Concerns for Flying Drones Over a Prison

  1. Contraband delivery: Drones can be used to deliver drugs, weapons, or other prohibited items to inmates, posing a significant security risk.
  2. Surveillance: Unauthorized drone flights can capture sensitive information about prison facilities, staff, and inmates, compromising security measures.
  3. Escape facilitation: Drones might be used to scout potential escape routes, drop tools, or distract prison personnel, assisting in inmate escapes.
  4. Staff endangerment: Flying drones over a prison may cause accidents or provoke hostile reactions, putting the safety of prison staff at risk.
  5. Legal violations: Operating drones over prisons is illegal in many jurisdictions, and violators may face penalties including fines or imprisonment.

Permissions and Permits

Flying a drone over a prison is strictly prohibited due to security concerns and potential risks. As a result, obtaining permissions or permits for such an activity is not possible.

It is crucial to follow the local laws and regulations governing drone usage, and avoid flying over sensitive areas, such as prisons, to ensure the safety and privacy of the people and facilities within those areas.

Penalties for Flying a Drone without Authorization

Violating the flight restrictions set by FAA for flying drones over prison facilities can result in enforcement actions, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges. Drone pilots caught operating their unmanned aircraft over Federal Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Coast Guard facilities may face a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony, and in some cases, even up to a year in prison.

Also check:


1. Can I Fly Drones Over a Prison if I am not a Licensed Drone Pilot?

No, you cannot fly a drone over a prison if you are not a licensed drone pilot. Flying a drone over sensitive areas like prisons is highly restricted due to security concerns and potential dangers. Unauthorized drone flights over such areas can lead to legal consequences and penalties, regardless of whether you hold a drone pilot license or not. It is crucial to adhere to local regulations and laws governing drone flights to ensure the safety and privacy of all parties involved.

2. Who can Authorize the Use of Drones Over a Prison?

The authorization for the use of drones over a prison typically falls under the jurisdiction of the respective prison administration, local law enforcement agencies, and aviation authorities such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States. Permission to fly a drone over a prison would require obtaining specific approvals from these authorities, as they are responsible for ensuring the safety, security, and privacy of the prison facilities and their occupants. Unauthorized drone flights over prisons can lead to legal consequences, as they pose potential risks to both the facility and its residents.

3. Can the Police Fly Drones Over a Prison?

Yes, the police can fly drones over a prison for various purposes such as surveillance, security, and monitoring. Law enforcement agencies often use drones as a valuable tool to enhance safety and maintain order within prison facilities. However, they must adhere to specific regulations and guidelines set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and local authorities to ensure the responsible and legal use of drones in these highly sensitive areas.


In conclusion, before flying a drone over a prison, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the appropriate resources and tools. Download the B4UFLY mobile app to easily find safe and legal flying locations.

Drone laws are subject to change, and information in this blog may become outdated; always consult official sources for the latest regulations.

And if you have a related query, kindly feel free to let me know in the comments.

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Peter Karanja is a licensed drone pilot from Kenya, freelance writer and drone enthusiast. He has been using drones for land survey, GIS, and photography for the past three years. Being a drone user, he loves writing about drone applications, safety tips for using drones, and the best ways to get the most out of a drone.

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