Cook County Record

Monday, January 20, 2020

New IL law mostly bars towns from regulating drones, giving regulatory 'predictability,' attorney says


By Mary Ann Magnell | Aug 20, 2018


CHICAGO — A recent change to the Illinois Aeronautics Act has provided drone operators “more predictability,” according to Chicago attorney Andrew Fiske. 

Fiske, of the Chicago firm of Holland & Knight, told The Cook County Record this legislation was a way to minimize the competing drone regulations throughout the state.  

“It would be challenging to have to know rules in so many municipalities,” said Fiske.  

Presently, municipalities in the state have not done much to regulate drone activity, as Fiske said a couple of communities had adopted regulations. But he said other communities were contemplating how to institute their own regulations, which the legislatiation will now undo.

“Chicago took the lead,” he said. “Which is interesting because this legislation doesn’t impact Chicago."

On Aug. 3, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law the legislation, pre-empting all municipalities other than Chicago, including home rule municipalities from regulating "unmanned aircraft systems."

“For the moment, there is going to be a more predictable path toward how drones are operated in the state,” Fiske said in a blog post, published Aug. 9 on the legal blogging site, JD Supra.  Fiske added that these changes may be preferable for drone operators. 

“Municipalities should not adopt ordinances or resolutions regulating drones, and those municipalities with existing regulations outside of Chicago should not expect those regulations to be enforceable,”  according to the blog post.

Fiske said, however, that these changes are not “carte blanche for drone operators to use drones in ways that may violate other laws."

The Act, as Mr. Fiske detailed in the blog post, does not “entirely preclude” municipalities from regulating the impacts of drones, suggesting that municipalities may “retain a path to mitigate the negative impacts of certain uses of unmanned aircraft systems by seeking relief under existing remedies such as actions for nuisance, trespass, disorderly conduct or similar violations.”

Fiske noted future rulemaking from the Division of Aeronautics may "clarify the intended scope of this provision."


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