Historically speaking technology has always been a step or two ahead of the law. Drones are no exception. Just this year at least 38 states started considering droning regulations throughout the United States and drone lawsuits are on the rise in New Jersey.      

The Law In New Jersey

While the FAA requires that all small unmanned aircrafts weighing more than .55 pounds and less than 55, be registered and marked with a registration number (which can be done either online or by using the legacy paper-based registration process) the actual state of New Jersey doesn’t currently have any drone-specific registration laws. But with the way things are going this is probably only a matter of time and as of January 15th of 2017, Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law that makes it a crime to operate a drone or unmanned aircraft under the influence of alcohol, a narcotic, hallucinogen, or habit-producing drug.

You may be wondering “how would this law be enforced?” After all, how could the police capture a drone mid-air and then determine who was piloting it? Well, the answer is that the law would only be enforced if and whenever an incident where to occur. If, for example, someone calls the police to report a drone flying above their property the police can arrive on the scene and attempt to determine from where the drone is being piloted. If they succeed at doing so the pilot of the craft may be given a Breathalyzer test by police. The acceptable blood alcohol content level for piloting a is the same as that of a car, which is 0.08%.

If a drone “pilot” fails to pass the blood alcohol test it can come with penalties of up to six months in jail or $1,000 in fines. The actual charge will be a “disorderly persons offense.” Which is reasonable considering that drunk-driving a drone is, on average, far less dangerous than drunk-driving a car. In effect it’s more of a nuisance, or rather, an invasion of privacy.

New Jersey Drone-Law Provisions

This drone protection bill also makes it illegal to fly drones over prisons, which is a provision that was added to the bill when it was discovered that prisoners had been smuggling drugs in via so-called “drone drops.”

Drone pilots may also face legal consequences if their flights interfere with first responders, other commercial aircraft, or if they are used as an aid in hunting wildlife. This has become a problem in several areas where drones have been known to interfere and cause a nuisance to firefighters and other first responders as they are trying to do their job.

A number of other states have enacted legislation that defines drones and unmanned aircraft and criminalizes acting recklessly with them. And the FAA regulations on model aircraft are even more stringent than the New Jersey law—holding pilots of model aircraft to the similar standards as commercial airline pilots. But this is due in large part to the fact that model aircraft have been around a great deal longer than drones have. We suspect that eventually, the federal laws will catch up to droning and in the aircraft will end up being just as, if not more so, regulated than model airplanes. This is not necessarily a bad thing because, even drone-enthusiasts will readily admit that, although drones have a number of great potential upsides, that also represent some serious dangers. You don’t need to stop droning but you should make sure to do saw within the limits of the law.

Drone Related Injuries

In some cases, drones have been known to cause serious injury and or harm to pilots and innocent bystanders including:

  • Falls
  • Eye injuries
  • Hand injuries
  • Facial lacerations
  • Head injuries
  • Potential broken bones, back, neck and spinal cord injuries.

Causes Of Drone Accidents

  • Lack of flight experience and knowledge
  • Drone manufacturing companies market drones as easy to operate when they are truly not. Flying a drone requires training.
  • Use of wrong drones by first-time users. There are cases where first-time users buy huge drones rather than starting with small ones.
  • Ignoring rules set by the FAA. There are users who try to take photos near airports and this is dangerous since it can lead to a collision with a plane.

What To Do If You Suffered A Drone Injury

  • First, you should ensure that you get medical help. Drones can lead to serious injuries and in some cases, they may be internal. You may think that you are okay but truth is that you have injured yourself. It is therefore recommended that you seek medical assistance.
  • Contact the company that had licensed you and inform them of the accident.
  • Ensure you get you drone repaired before using it again. If you haven’t fully known how to operate a drone, ensure that you get to learn the skills required. You can either go online or ask for guidance at the place where you bought the drone.
  • If you live in New Jersey, contact DeZao Law at (973) 358-6134.