It seems barely a day goes by now without a new report of someone getting into trouble over a drone. In September 2015, a hobby drone operator was arrested for flying his drone within 50 feet of a police helicopter. At the 2015 U.S. Open, a teacher was arrested for crashing a drone into the crowd. A New York man was arrested after flying a drone over the state Capitol building.
Once confined to the realm of hobbyists, drones – also known as “unmanned aircraft systems” (UAS) – are now the favorite toys of YouTubers and amateur pilots around the world. Although they have been largely unregulated for years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has now stepped in with new regulations.
“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft [sic] enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” stated U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
According to the FAA’s news release, any owner of a drone that weighs between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds must register the drone with the FAA as of December 21, 2015. If you owned a drone prior to the new rule, you have until February 19, 2016 to register. If you purchase one after December 21, 2015, you must register it before its first flight.
Drones that weigh more than 55 pounds are considered aircraft and must register using a separate process.
There is also an age requirement for owning a drone. Individuals must be at least 13 years old. You must also be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to register a drone. Drone owners can register online through the FAA website. Registrations are valid for three years, and owners must mark their drones with their registration number.
The FAA is a federal agency, which means people arrested for flying a drone too high or in places where they are not authorized to venture could potentially face both federal and state criminal charges. As the technology evolves, and drones become increasingly more sophisticated, authorities at the state and federal levels are taking these types of cases very seriously. Before you fly, make sure your aircraft is registered if necessary. Because this is an evolving area of law, police may not always be aware of your rights and responsibilities as a drone pilot. Know the law and your rights before you fly.
If you have been charged with any type of crime, you need an experienced lawyer on your side as soon as possible. There are many options in your case. Call Razumich Law, P.C. today at (317) 983-5333 for a free consultation.
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