Lawmakers in New Jersey have passed a bill, which if signed by Gov. Chris Christie, would turn drinking while flying a drone into a criminal offense that could carry up to $1,000 in fines and six months in prison.
Understandably, flying any drone even a toy while intoxicated can be hazardous and cause injury, but NJ lawmakers are now asking the governor to impose stiff penalties. According to the proposed legislation, operating a drone with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 (BAC) percent or more (same as with driving a vehicle) would be considered a disorderly conduct offense under the new rules.
The bill passed with a vote of 65-0 and is expected to be signed into law. Also included in the measure are calls for even stricter penalties for those who intentionally use their drones to endanger someone's life or property, harass wildlife, or compromise the security of a correctional facility. Such infractions carry stiffer fines and sentencing, which could result in offenders facing up to $10,000 in fines and 18 months in prison.
In a country where almost 10 percent of the population is behind bars, the new drone laws may come as no surprise to critics who believe, with reason, that the number of laws in the United States helps to contribute to the incarceration problem. Not only are there too many people behind bars, there are too many behind bars for victimless crimes—such as being caught with a plant.