New Jersey is joining a list of states setting up regulations designed to curb the wild west of drones. The market for camera drones has exploded in popularity, and state governments have been placed in a reactive environment.
New Jersey is one those states, and the state legislature has passed Senate Bill S-3370 overwhelmingly in both houses – the State Assembly approved it 65-0 after the State Senate approved it 39-0 last month.
What’s in the bill? A lot of it is common sense rules people should just know, but for whatever reason, get a drone, and all sense flies away faster than their new toy. What is grabbing the headline is drunk droning can land you in prison. Here’s the key part of the legislation:
Under the bill, it is a disorderly persons offense to operate a drone: 1) knowingly or intentionally in a manner that endangers the life or property of another; 2) to take or assist in the taking of wildlife; and 3) while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug or with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol. Disorderly persons offenses are punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
Yeah, don’t drink and drone is now a thing. The obvious use case would be a day of partying at the beach or lake. You’ve been drinking with friends and happen to have a drone. Don’t fly it. While most will laugh, it’s serious. Being drunk impairs the ability to operate a vehicle. Same applies to a drone.
Other restrictions include breaking the security corridor of a correctional facility, violating a restraining order, interfering with first responder activities, and stalking/harassing/invading privacy. Common sense regulations. Unfortunately, these have to be spelled out for some, while the vast majority of drone enthusiasts are responsible.
The bill is currently sitting on Gov. Chris Christie’s desk and is expected to be signed before January 16 when his second term as governor comes to an end.