It’s a sunny day and you’re down the shore drinking some brews with your bros, eating Taylor Ham, listening to the Boss, and screwing around with your drone. Next thing you know, some cop is all up in your grill with a breathalyzer. Yes, citizens of New Jersey, you may soon be subject to drunk droning laws!
This week, bill A-5205 made it’s way out of committee to the full Assembly according to NorthJersey.com. The bipartisan sponsored legislation would make it illegal to “operates an unmanned aircraft system while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug.”
Specifically, the proposed law mandates that in the Garden State anyone with a blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeding 0.08% will be considered drunk droning. The crime is considered a “disorderly persons offense” and is punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to six months, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
Jersey devils should also be weary of sending their runaway American drones on month-long vacations in the stratosphere as several other forbidden uses of UAV’s are spelled out in the text. Using drones drones to hunt or assist with hunting is also on the banned list. Likewise, NJ legislators would like you to keep your drones away from prisons and first responders. New offenses spelled out in the bill would punish ne’er-do-wells who interfere with either of these institutions with fines ranging between $1,000 and 10,000 and/or prison sentences ranging from six months to five years (dependent on the specific nature of the offense).
“Drones have become increasingly disruptive, causing near-misses with airplanes, interfering with firefighter operations and being used to smuggle drugs and other contraband into prisons,” Democratic Assemblywoman Annette Quijano of Union County, noted in a statement.
The proposal enjoys broad support from both sides of the aisle, but for now, it’s still just a bill sitting here on Capitol Hill. The legislation needs to be passed by both houses and then signed by lame duck NJ Governor Chris Christie. While passage through the legislature is expected, the oft irrational Christie is a question. The GOP gov previously vetoed a bill regulating police use of drones.
If signed into law, the A 5205 would make NJ the first state forbid drunk droning.