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Searching 2023-2024 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

The Vermont Statutes Online have been updated to include the actions of the 2023 session of the General Assembly.

NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.

Title 20 : Internal Security and Public Safety

Chapter 205 : Drones

(Cite as: 20 V.S.A. § 4622)
  • § 4622. Law enforcement use of drones

    (a) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a law enforcement agency shall not use a drone or information acquired through the use of a drone for the purpose of investigating, detecting, or prosecuting crime.

    (b)(1) A law enforcement agency shall not use a drone to gather or retain data on private citizens peacefully exercising their constitutional rights of free speech and assembly.

    (2) This subsection shall not be construed to prohibit a law enforcement agency from using a drone:

    (A) for observational, public safety purposes that do not involve gathering or retaining data; or

    (B) pursuant to a warrant obtained under Rule 41 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure.

    (c) A law enforcement agency may use a drone and may disclose or receive information acquired through the operation of a drone if the drone is operated:

    (1) for a purpose other than the investigation, detection, or prosecution of crime, including search and rescue operations and aerial photography for the assessment of accidents, forest fires and other fire scenes, flood stages, and storm damage; or

    (2) pursuant to:

    (A) a warrant obtained under Rule 41 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure; or

    (B) a judicially recognized exception to the warrant requirement.

    (d)(1) When a drone is used pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, the drone shall be operated in a manner intended to collect data only on the target of the surveillance and to avoid data collection on any other person, home, or area.

    (2) Facial recognition or any other biometric matching technology shall not be used on any data that a drone collects on any person, home, or area other than the target of the surveillance.

    (3)(A) If a law enforcement agency uses a drone in exigent circumstances pursuant to subdivision (c)(2)(B) of this section, the agency shall obtain a search warrant for the use of the drone within 48 hours after the use commenced.

    (B) If the court denies an application for a warrant filed pursuant to subdivision (A) of this subdivision (d)(3):

    (i) use of the drone shall cease immediately; and

    (ii) information or evidence gathered through use of the drone shall be destroyed.

    (e) Information or evidence gathered in violation of this section shall be inadmissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding. (Added 2015, No. 169 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Oct. 1, 2016.)