New Jersey lawmakers are moving forward with legislation that would make operating a drone under the influence of alcohol a disorderly persons offense, which carries a sentence of up to six months in prison, a $1,000 fine or both.
The legislation cleared an Assembly committee on Monday and is up for a vote in the full Senate on Thursday. The law would also make using a drone to hunt wildlife and endanger people or property a similar offense and would prohibit using drones to endanger safety at correctional facilities a crime as well as interfering with first responders who are engaged in transport.
U.S. airspace is exclusively regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration, which already has rules in place barring the drunken operation of drones. However, according to Jonathan Rupprecht, an aviation attorney based in Florida, many states are pursuing their own legislation because of a “lack of enforcement” at the federal level.
I’m not sure how I feel about this.
Yes, I’ve heard that drones can be dangerous, and I agree that there needs to be regulations in place to control their use.
But to me such laws seem like they should be enough. If someone violates whatever drone operations laws are in place, then they should face consequences, whether they are sober or drunk.
But if someone is just out flying his or her drone in compliance with the drone laws, then I don’t think that person should be targeted by law enforcement just because they’ve had a couple of drinks while flying the drone.
Perhaps a compromise would be to make the penalties more severe IF someone violates existing drone regulations and the person is drunk.
But sitting out on your deck, drinking a six pack, and flying a drone around your back yard, under complete control?
Even if you’re considered “drunk”, I don’t think that type of behavior needs to be regulated.
P.S. By the way, here’s an article from Slate from a couple of years ago arguing in favor of such drunk droning laws. Just giving you both sides of the argument…
*Photo from Rotor Riot