Drones, also known as unmanned aircraft vehicle (UAV), have to follow rules just like any other aircraft. They actually go by a set of regulations designed specifically for UAVs flown for recreational and sport purposes. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and some state-level regulations are put in place to limit the use of UAVs and in some states even to prohibit its use altogether. There have been documented cases where drone operators demonstrate reckless behavior and put at risk the safety or violate privacy regulations from the FAA’s perspective. But what happens when the drone operators are more interested in the footage they are getting off their camera, than the flight itself? This is why growing concerns have led authorities to implement and enforce the regulations and laws regarding UAVs, including its registration, fly zones and activities. It is far from being strictly regulated nationwide, but this has brought to the attention of most the gaps in the current laws and regulations, due to the novelty of it all.
Hollywood faces privacy issues and this might just help celebrities
In California, the law enforcement has had to arrest drone operators for flying over prohibited publicly-owned spaces like public beaches and adjoining open spaces such as piers, golf courses, parking lots and even pools. That’s not all. The law also states that horse paths and hiking trails are also protected. This will actually benefit many Hollywood stars that own properties in these areas and will be able to enjoy their privacy without concerns of drone paparazzi barging in on them.
Showing reckless behavior in New York City
In New York, there have been cases of people flying their drones outside of the allowed areas to do so. In one case there was even an arrest because someone flew a drone over the stadium where a U.S. Open match was going on at the moment. It ended up crashing into some of the empty stands, so luckily no spectators were injured, but that didn’t get him off the hook. The owner was still charged with “reckless endangerment, reckless operation of a drone and operating a drone in a New York City public park outside of a prescribed are for doing so”
Fourth of July adventures
There are tons of videos on YouTube of drone flights, and this is what is greatly concerning law enforcements because of some of the places where these drones are flying and what they are attempting to do. There is one in particular of a drone flying through fireworks that even led authorities to make a public announcement. Hobbyists don’t require permission to fly drones, but were urged to “obey the law” by the FAA.
Penalties for not registering your drone
As of December 2015, the FAA has notified that all drones that weigh .55 pounds or more have to be registered with the hopes of creating awareness in operators and a sense of accountability when it comes to how and where they are flying their drones. Not complying with this regulation will lead to civil fines of up to $27,500. Additionally, if found to be incurring in criminal activity with the drone, the penalties could go as high as $250,000 or even imprisonment.
Trying to reach new heights
In many parts of the country there have also been reports of fines and arrests for drones flying over the height limit of 500 feet above the ground. In case, in L.A. it is now also illegal to fly a drone within five miles of an airport without the required permissions or within 25 feet of another person. The violation of these regulations can have consequences of a fine of up to $1,000 or six months imprisonment, since it’s now considered a misdemeanor. An incident a couple of years ago, where a drone flew over the crowd coming out of the Stanley Cup when the Kings won would now be illegal for example, along with a number of other flights that were routinely occurring before the new laws were enforced.
An arrest with a twist
Now, we’ve seen all these cases that involve the arrest or fine of drone owner, what happens when the drone is the victim? In this case, a man in New Jersey in the attempt to defend his privacy shot down a neighbor’s drone. The man was charged with “possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and criminal mischief”. But this certainly raises a lot of questions. Could this be considered self-defense, since the drone was flying in the air space of his private property? The new laws that develop as drones become part of everyday life are yet to be seen, but what is clear is that there has to be a way of regulating the up and coming generation of drone owners so that drone flight doesn’t generate any public disturbances, violates our basic privacy rights and abide by the necessary laws.