TIPSY drone owners in the USA could face a stint behind bars if a proposed ban on “drunk droning” goes ahead – and the UK could follow suit.
New Jersey lawmakers approved a bill by 65-0 that would make it illegal to operate a drone while under the influence.
Getty – Contributor Drones are becoming very popular, but lawmakers are worried about the risks of rogue operators
Drone enthusiasts are now eagerly awaiting a decision from the state governor over whether to pass the bill into law.
If that happens, using a drone with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.08% would count as a “disorderly offence”.
The top punishment for breaking the new law would be a six-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine.
Reuters quotes New Jersey official Annette Quijano as saying: “Like any technology, drones have the ability to be used for good, but they also provide new opportunities for bad actors.”
Getty – Contributor Stiff new laws could see drunken drone owners slapped with huge fines – and even time in the nick
The decision is part of a wider global crackdown on dodgy drone operators.
As the popular gadgets become cheaper and more widespread, lawmakers are looking for new ways to stop dangerous users in their tracks.
The UK government is currently hard at work on a draft Drone Bill that could see similar legislation passed here in Britain.
This bill, which is due to be published next spring, will give police wider powers – including the ability to order drone owners to ground their gadgets.
Getty – Contributor New drone laws could work just like existing drink driving laws, which measure blood alcohol concentration levels
The National Police Chiefs’ Serena Kennedy said: “Police officers will use all available powers to investigate reports of criminal misuse of drones and seek the appropriate penalty.”
“We are working with all relevant partners to understand the threats that this new technology can pose when used irresponsibly or illegally.”
“Do not take this lightly – if you use a drone to invade people’s privacy or engage in disruptive behaviour, you could face serious criminal charges.”
The full list of powers haven’t been revealed, but the Department for Transport has already teased some of the bill’s contents.
Getty – Contributor The UK government is creating its own legal crackdown on dodgy drone operators with a new bill coming this spring This iPhone case doubles up as a flying drone that can take aerial selfies
It’s expected that the bill will force drone users to sit safety awareness tests.
And any Brit who uses a drone that weighs more than 250 grams will have to be registered going forward.
Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg said that drones have “great potential”, but warned over the risks of having no regulation.
“We have to take steps to stop illegal use of these devices and address safety and privacy concerns.”
Getty – Contributor If you’ve had one too many, you should avoid operating vehicles, machinery, and even drones
“These new laws strike a balance, to allow the vast majority of drone users to continue flying safely and responsibly, while also paving the way for drone technology to revolutionise businesses and public services.”
It’s entirely possible that the new UK laws could also see drunken drone owners having their pricey gadgets seized.
According to the DfT, police officers will be able to seize drones if they think an offence is being committed.
Drones are also likely to be banned from operating in certain areas, including near airports.