New Jersey lawmakers approved legislation on Monday to ban inebriated drone operation. With drone sales continuing to skyrocket in 2017, there are increased concerns of drone accidents, leading to increased regulation worldwide on the aerial gadgets. If the bill is signed into law by outgoing governor Chris Christie or governor-elect Phil Murphy, the message that the state of New Jersey will deliver is don't drink and drone.
While the expectation should be that drone operators will exercise good judgment and caution along with undergoing training prior to flying, the reality is that regulation and enforcement is needed to help prevent dangerous incidents. Infamously in 2015, a drunken U.S. government employee crashed his DJI Phantom onto the White House grounds. This incident along with numerous others throughout the last few years, including near-collisions with aircraft, was certainly on the minds of the lawmakers who voted on the bill, which passed 39-0 in the State Senate and 65-0 in the State Assembly. The legislation calls for penalties of up to six months in prison or a $1,000 fine for drunk or high drone operators.
“The use of drones has increased dramatically in the recent years for a variety of purposes,” State Sen. Paul Sario said. “There are many benefits...but they can also pose threats to safety, security, and privacy. The technology has outpaced regulations.”
While drone advocates and enthusiasts routinely call into question regulatory overreach, I don't know who would be opposed to this law. Though not operating a drone while inebriated should be common sense, sadly the need for this type of regulation is needed and will hopefully prevent or at least help mitigate some risk.
Lead image by A. Savin via Wikimedia Commons.