We live in an age of ever-growing technology. It’s an exciting time to be alive. Many of the new technological advances seem to make our lives easier and more convenient. However, some recent technologies are blurring the lines between helpful and annoying. Drones are one of these controversial new tech toys. Love them or hate them, drones are going to be a part of our lives, whether we like it or not. Over the last couple of years, drones have been a popular gadget that seem to be sweeping the nation. An article by The New York Times mentioned that over two million drones were sold in 2016. Drone sales are not expected to slow down, so it’s important to understand some basic information about this new tech.
WHAT IS A DRONE
Drones are defined as an unmanned aerial vehicle or an unmanned aircraft system. Drones have been used for many years by the military. It’s only been recently that anyone can go out and buy a drone. It goes without saying that civilian drones do not have the same capabilities of a military grade drone. That being said, civilian drones can do some pretty cool things.
You’ve probably seen videos of drone footage flying over neighborhoods, iconic scenery etc. It’s amazing the type/quality of footage you can capture with drones. Because of the image quality and relatively low price, drones have become a go-to method for ameuter filmmakers. Gone are they days where you need a big budget and a helicopter to get those amazing, aerial shots. Simply grab your drone, and film.
Drone racing is also becoming an increasingly popular activity. Drone racing involves setting up difficult obstacle course and racing through them as fast as possible. It’s a thrill to watch.
RULES OF OPERATING A DRONE
As with almost everything, there are rules. Since drones are a relatively new technology, the rules and guidelines are constantly changing. This article will outline some basic rules, but it’s best to regularly check the Federal Aviation Administration’s website on the rules and regulations on drone operation.
Here are the general guidelines:
- Your drone must be registered if it weighs over .55 pounds.
- You must fly your drone at least five miles away from the airport.
- Never fly over 400 feet.
- Always maintain visual contact with your drone.
- Do not fly over people or large crowds.
- Never fly near emergency response areas, like fires.
WHERE CAN YOU FLY A DRONE
So, with all these rules, where exactly can you fly your drone? Obviously, private property is going to be your best option. This way, you can somewhat control your environment and reduce risk for injury or accident. Public parks can be a great option also, just make sure you are abiding by the rules set by the FAA. Always use common sense and your best judgement when flying drones. Don’t fly in hazardous conditions and never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
It was mentioned early that the rules of drone operation are constantly changing. For example, in San Diego, California, local officials are starting to crack down on reckless drone users. A new, prospective law would give local police offers the ability to cite irresponsible drone users, especially those flying near airports. Always use common sense when operating a drone. If for some reason you are charged with trespassing or another offense, especially in the San Diego area, consult a San Diego criminal defense attorney.
DRONES AND TRESPASSING
Because drones are relatively new, the laws regarding drones are rather unclear. Can you fly your drone onto someone else’s property? Do people own the airspace surrounding their house? These are tough questions to answer.
A couple of years ago, a man in Kentucky encountered some of these questions asked above. William Merideth was on his property when he noticed that a drone was flying near his house. Worried that the drone was spying on his family, Merideth grabbed a gun and shot down the drone. Because he was in the city limits, Merideth was charged and brought in front of a judge. However, after hearing the case, trial judge Rebecca Ward dismissed the case citing that Merideth was is his right shooting the trespassing drone.
When it comes to drones, use common sense. Don’t fly over people’s property without their permission. Be respectful, unless you want your new, expensive toy to be shot down. If you are flying your drone and get accused of trespassing, it’s best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure you are protected.