Interest Groups

Advisory Opinion: Office of the Indiana State Chemist - Government Practice News

Get the news you want the way you want it: click the RSS button in the right corner to add this feed to your RSS reader, or click here to subscribe to this content. By subscribing, you’ll find this news on your Member Account page, and the latest articles will be emailed to you in your customized IndyBar E-Bulletin e-newsletter.

Government Practice News


Posted on: Nov 6, 2019

By Matthew R. Elliott, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP

Recently, the Office of the Indiana Attorney General issued an advisory opinion addressing the legal implications of the Office of the Indiana State Chemist (OISC) using drone technology in an administrative inspection. The opinion considers the following questions: 

  1. Would the OISC’s use of drones qualify under any type of law enforcement exclusion?
  2. Would the OISC’s use of drones constitute a “trespass” or “unlawful photography and surveillance on" real property?
  3. How is the legal analysis impacted if the OISC uses infrared, multispectral, hyperspectral, or LID AR (Light Detection and Ranging) lenses?
  4. Should the OISC provide prior notice that it will conduct an inspection using drone technology?
  5. How is the legal analysis impacted if the OISC employs a third-party contractor?
  6. What are the public records implications of using drone technology?

In short, the Attorney General’s office concluded the following: 

“The OISC’s use of drones in an administrative inspection would not constitute a civil or criminal trespass or an unlawful surveillance. That said, when using drone technology, the OISC should be mindful of limitations imposed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, requirements under federal law and regulation, and the scope of its statutory inspection authority. Data obtained by a drone, whether operated by an employee of the OISC or a contractor on behalf of the OISC, should be construed as a public record under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act and deemed disclosable unless there is an applicable statutory exception.” 

The full advisory opinion can be found here

If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Government Practice Section, please email Kara Sikorski at ksikorski@indybar.org.

DID YOU KNOW?

Indianapolis Bar Association (IndyBar) est. 1878 | 4,536 Members (as of 2.11.21)