New Jersey's state assembly unanimously approved legislation last week that provides for new fines and prison terms for those convicted of unsafe/prohibited operation of UAVs. Assembly Bill 5205 would provide for jail terms up to six months and fines to $1,000 for anyone convicted of operating a drone in a manner that could endanger life/property, while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or for the purpose of taking or assisting in the taking of wildlife.
The bill would provide more significant penalties for anyone convicted of operating a drone near a correctional facility, in a manner that interferes with first responders or lawful hunters, or in a manner to circumvent a restraining order. Convictions on those offenses would carry sentences of between 18 months and five years and fines up to $15,000.
Finally the legislation allows owner/operators of critical infrastructure/political subdivisions to prohibit close-proximity operation of drones pursuant to the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 and preempts any municipal or county measure in conflict with the state prohibitions and penalties.
"Establishing clear guidelines about how they can and cannot be used can help preserve public safety and prevent people from using them as criminal accessories," said Rep. Vince Mazzeo (D-Atlantic).