There are a number of Bills (Links are below) that have been introduced that revolve around the use of Drones within law enforcement agencies and fire departments, drones that have been equipped with weapons, and when privately owned drones are used to conduct surveillance of a critical infrastructure that have been presented in New Jersey Legislature. I have listed the bills along with some of the text from each bill. For further research visit New Jersey Legislature and search for drone and unmanned aerial in the search bar.
Do not forget to always abide by the FAA regulations no matter where you fly.
- Fly your Drone below 400 FT
- Fly with local clubs
- Inspect your aircraft before you fly
- Take a lesson before you fly
- Don’t fly your drone beyond line of sight
- Don’t fly near airports or any manned aircraft
- Don’t fly near people or stadiums
- Don’t be carless or reckless, you could be fined if you endanger people or other aircraft
- Don’t fly anything that weighs more than 55lbs.
- Don’t fly for payment or commercial purposes unless specifically authorized by the FAA
This bill makes it a fourth degree crime to operate a drone that is equipped with a weapon.
Specifically, under the provisions of this bill, a person who operates a civilian unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly referred to as a drone, that is equipped with an anti-personnel device is guilty of a fourth degree crime.
A fourth degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
The bill defines “civilian unmanned aerial vehicle” as an aerial vehicle owned or operated by a private individual or business entity that uses aerodynamic forces to propel the vehicle and does not carry a human operator, and which is capable of flying autonomously or being piloted remotely and conducting surveillance.
In addition, under the bill, “anti-personnel device” means a firearm, a prohibited weapon or device, or any other projectile designed to harm, incapacitate, or otherwise negatively impact a human being.
This bill establishes a fourth degree crime of conducting surveillance of a critical infrastructure using a privately owned drone. The bill also requires certain drones to be registered and insured.
Specifically, this bill makes it a fourth degree crime for a person to use a civilian unmanned aerial vehicle, commonly referred to as a drone, to conduct surveillance of, gather evidence or collect information or data about, or photographically or electronically record any critical infrastructure without the prior written consent of the entity that owns or operates the critical infrastructure. A fourth degree crime is punishable by up to 18 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
The bill defines a “civilian unmanned aerial vehicle” as an aerial vehicle that is owned or operated by a private individual or business entity that uses aerodynamic forces to propel the vehicle and does not carry a human operator, and which is capable of flying autonomously or being piloted remotely and conducting surveillance.
Under the bill, “critical infrastructure” means any system, facility, or asset that is vital to this State such that the incapacity or destruction of the system, facility, or asset or any part thereof would have an impact on the physical or economic security or the public health or safety of this State including, but not limited to, communications; financial; computers; transportation; military; government services; emergency services; sewerage, including a public sewage facility; water, including a water treatment facility or a public water facility; waste water; waste treatment facility; energy, including a power generation facility or a nuclear electric generating plant; public utility, including utility company property; telecommunications; health care; research, including a research facility; chemical refining, including any facility which stores, generates, or handles any hazardous chemical or chemical compounds; pharmaceutical services; ports; bridges; tunnels; overpasses; or highways.
The bill also prohibits a person from operating a civilian drone unless it is registered with the Division of Aeronautics in the Department of Transportation. In addition, a person is prohibited from operating a civilian drone unless the person maintains liability insurance coverage to insure against loss resulting from liability for bodily injury, death, and property damage sustained by any person arising out of the ownership, maintenance, operation, or use of the drone. The required minimum coverage is to be in an amount determined by the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance in consultation with the Commissioner of Transportation.
A person who operates a civilian drone without the required registration or insurance is subject to a civil penalty of not less than $1,000 for a first offense and not less than $5,000 for a second or subsequent offense. In addition, for a second or subsequent offense, a person’s civilian drone registration is to be revoked for a period of two years.
This resolution urges the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to promulgate rules and regulations to further restrict the flight of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, over certain populated areas.
Pursuant to the “FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012,” Pub. L. 112-95, the FAA is responsible for regulating unmanned aerial vehicles. Under the Act, the FAA is charged with determining whether certain unmanned aerial vehicles may operate safely in the national airspace system and, if it is determined that safe operation is possible, the FAA is required to establish requirements for the safe operation of such vehicles.
The FAA has restricted the flight of unmanned aerial vehicles over certain populated areas such as aerial demonstrations and major sporting events. While flight of these vehicles is currently prohibited over stadiums during Major League Baseball, National Football League and NCAA football games, and motor speedway events, current restrictions do not adequately regulate the flight of these unmanned vehicles and, therefore, do not sufficiently protect against the potential risk of harm they may cause. Unmanned aerial vehicles have been reported over parades, and have crashed into the stands of stadiums at sporting events, including a US Open tennis match, where flight is not currently restricted by the FAA.
The FAA recently reported a drastic increase in pilot sightings of unmanned aerial vehicles from a total of 238 in 2014 to more than 650 sightings as of August 2015. In addition, during a nine-month period, from March through November of 2014, approximately 25 incidents were reported where an unmanned aerial vehicles nearly collided with a manned aircraft in midair, sometimes requiring evasive action.
If not properly regulated by the FAA, future incidents involving unmanned aerial vehicles could put hundreds of airplane passengers, spectators, and other citizens in serious danger. Promulgation by the FAA of regulations which would expand restrictions to strictly prohibit the flight of unmanned aerial vehicles over all sporting events, parades, and other sensitive locations is imperative in order to prevent serious future and foreseeable harm.