New Legislation Making It Illegal to Fly a Drone While Intoxicated

Pilot running drone at sunset

Here on the Edward M. Janzekovich law blog, we have discussed such topics as intoxicated driving, drunk driving, and drunk operation as it applies to cars, trucks, boats, trains, motorcycles, bicycles, construction vehicles, and heavy machinery. Considering all the laws in New Jersey against operation while intoxicated, it will probably come as no surprise that a new law will be adding drones to the list.

With new technological advances occurring every day, new and more complicated laws usually will follow. One popular technological advance requiring regulation has been the invention of the drone – remote controlled flying devices that range in value from $15 to the tens of thousands of dollars. Drones are becoming more and more a part of our everyday lives, both in personal and professional usage. Drones often include expensive high definition camera and video capabilities, but can be used for other purposes, too. Amazon, for example, along with many other companies, has invested huge sums of money in an effort to make drone delivery a reality. Likewise, hundreds of thousands of children recently unwrapped drones at Christmas that will soon be flying around.

While the law is pretty firm when it comes to drunk driving, and the consequences clear, the consequences of operating a drone drunk had previously been unclear, until now. New Jersey State legislators approved a bill that would make it illegal to fly a drone under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The Bill is not yet law, and will require approval by the Governor.

New Bill Recently Passed by New Jersey Legislature

In an effort to begin regulating just what can and cannot be done with a drone, a measure was recently passed through the New Jersey legislature that makes it a disorderly person’s offense for someone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or more to operate a drone – the same as per se intoxication for driving a car. You can also be penalized for flying a drone while intoxicated on prescription or illegal drugs.

A conviction would carry a sentence of up to six months in prison or a $1,000 or both – varying from the penalties for drunk driving or drunk boating, which are more serious with significant fines, jail time, loss of driving privileges, and more. There are also similar penalties for the use of drones to illegally aid in hunting. Finally, the legislation also prohibits the flying of drones near correctional facilities.

This measure marks the first statewide bill addressing drone usage in New Jersey. However, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports at least 38 states are considering new such laws, including many in our area such as Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and South Carolina. Already, nine states prohibit drones from operating near or over prisons, including Arizona, Louisiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, Essex said.

“Like any technology, drones have the ability to be used for good, but they also provide new opportunities for bad actors,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano of Elizabeth, New Jersey. She backed the bill punishing drunk drone flying in New Jersey.

New Jersey DUI/DWI Attorney Edward M. Janzekovich Can Defend You If You are Charged with Operation While Intoxicated

If you or someone you know is charged with driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, whether in a car, boat, or other vehicle, it is extremely important to contact an experienced DUI/DWI attorney who can explain your rights to you and vigorously defend you. If you go to court, an experienced lawyer can also make sure you get the best result possible and can make all the difference. To speak with an experienced New Jersey DWI/DUI lawyer about your situation, call us at 732-257-1137 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout the state of New Jersey.