Follow Patrick Linkedin Twitter Facebook
Email Patrick Email
Legal Issues
Nov 15, 2015

Proposed Federal Criminal Regulation Of Drone Operation

Sponsored Content provided by Patrick Mincey - Criminal Defense Attorney, Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP

Virtually overnight, drone law has emerged as a new practice area, and I am increasingly engaged by individual entrepreneurs and businesses with a vast range of legal issues concerning drones. Legal questions surrounding licensing, liability, insurance and privacy are intertwined in this increasingly cheap and rapidly accessible technology. Many of the legal issues for businesses and their counsel to consider are industry specific, and the Federal Aviation Administration is moving, albeit slowly, to provide guidelines for those interested in drone use for commercial activity. However, one aspect of drone law that has not yet emerged at all and which will apply to all operators, regardless of their industry or business uses, is criminal regulation. That may soon change.
 
In early October, the United States Senate introduced a bill which would make it a misdemeanor for individuals to operate a drone within two miles of a fire, airport or other restricted space; in August, the House introduced a similar bill. The Safe Drone Act, introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer, is one of several moves that have recently been introduced behind a crescendo of complaints and concerns raised about risks from the reckless use of drones by unlicensed operators. In particular, the proposed legislation arises out of concerns over collisions with manned aircraft.
 
Anecdotally, there has been an increasing number of firefighter operations forced to suspend air operations in the western states out of concern for pilot safety. In one widely publicized event, firefighting teams became concerned after an incident earlier this year in San Bernardino County, California, when drones that were being used to record video allegedly interfered with planes trying to drop retardant on a fire. The FAA has recently said that the number of drone sightings that have been reported by airline pilots has risen from 238 in all of 2014 to 650 in the first half of 2015.
 
Currently, FAA regulations prohibit operating drones within five miles of airports. The FAA has recently moved for civil penalties in excess of $1 million against a company the FAA claims knowingly conducted 65 unauthorized operations in controlled airspace. Other efforts by the agency have included working with organizations on technologies that would prevent drones from entering airspace of sensitive installations and create “geofencing.” Criminal legislation like that proposed by Congress serves as an additional deterrent.
 
As the skies grow more crowded and drone use more widespread, civil and criminal exposure will only increase. It is imperative for commercial and individual drone operators to be aware of the statutory and regulatory schemes that are quickly evolving.  
 
Patrick Mincey is a trial lawyer in Wilmington, where he founded the Criminal Defense Group at Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP. His criminal practice ranges from representing individuals and corporate clients who are targets, subjects or witnesses in federal and state white collar proceedings to “blue collar” defendants charged with murder, drug conspiracies and assaults. To contact Patrick Mincey, call (910) 777-6017 or email him at [email protected].
 

Wbj insights revised 0510 61715110749
Ico insights

INSIGHTS

SPONSORS' CONTENT
Carolinemontgomery4

Found Money: Tax Extenders And Disaster Relief

Caroline Montgomery - Adam Shay CPA, PLLC
Robindavisccu1 1011944433

Is A HELOC Right For You?

Robin Davis - Corning Credit Union (CCU)
Chris coudriet

Sewer And Water Along 421 Creates Corridor Primed For Growth And New Jobs

Chris Coudriet - New Hanover County Government

Trending News

Investors Commit $545M To Local Venture Capital Firm

Jenny Callison - Jan 22, 2020

New Firm Aims To Grow Its Stake In Wilmington's Industrial Real Estate

Christina Haley O'Neal - Jan 23, 2020

Update: Negotiations Begin For Major Redevelopment Project

Cece Nunn - Jan 22, 2020

Local Firm Acquires Real Estate School

Cece Nunn - Jan 22, 2020

Senior Living Development Proposed On Middle Sound Loop Road

Cece Nunn - Jan 24, 2020

In The Current Issue

Working As A Husband-and-wife Team

The Wilmington business owned by husband and wife Devin and Brooke Skipper began with Devin as the sole employee about eight years ago befor...


Packaged For Generations

Family firm Atlantic Packaging is putting the final touches on its newly expanded headquarters and opening a new location this month. ...


MADE: Driven To Expand Business

South Atlantic Services is a Wilmington-headquartered contract manufacturing and packaging company that makes automotive and industrial cool...

Book On Business

The 2019 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!


Galleries

Videos

2019 Health Care Heroes
August 26, 2019 Power Breakfast: A Healthy Sale?
2019 WILMA Leadership Accelerator
2019 WilmingtonBiz Expo Keynote Lunch - CEO, nCino, Pierre Naude`