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New Jersey lawmakers propose ban on folks drunk droning

If you're not fit to drive, you're not fit to fly in the Garden State

The State of New Jersey is considering a law to criminalize flying drones while drunk or stoned.

A bill introduced last week by Assembleywoman Annete Quijano (D-Union) would make it a crime to operate a recreatinal drone while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Drunk-droning would be a fourth-degree crime in the state (on par with shoplifting or simple assault), punishable by up to six months in prison and a $1,000 fine. As with driving a car, a person will be considered too drunk to operate a drone when their blood alcohol concentration passes .08 per cent.

The FAA already prohibits the operation of commercial drones while under the influence. New Jersey's law, however, would expand that to recreational drones. If passed, it would be New Jersey's first statewide law regulating the use of drone aircraft.

The ban on drunken operation of drones is part of a larger set of laws on drones that Quijano is proposing.

A Boeing 777 airliner on landing. Pic: Shutterstock

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She is also asking the state legislature to limit the use of drones to assist in hunting wildlife and tighten the restrictions on operating drones around correctional facilities and or in areas where first responders are operating (such as a rescue or accident scene).

"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," Quijano said in announcing the bill.

"This bill sets specific guidelines for how New Jersey's residents are able to utilize these devices to establish some order and help prevent these dangerous situations."

The bill, A5205, has been pushed through the Assembly Homeland Security & State Preparedness Committee. Should it pass in the Assembly, it would then need to be signed into law by Governor Chris Christie. ®

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