As we’ve discussed in many previously published blog posts on the Law Office of Eric M. Mark’s blog, if you’ve been drinking, don’t operate a vehicle, a commercial vehicle, a boat, or even a bicycle. And now, if you live in New Jersey, you can add another “don’t” to that list. Specifically, if you’ve had too much to drink or are under the influence of drugs, don’t operate a drone.
First thing first, many of you are likely asking, “What on earth is a drone?” According to the bill passed by the New Jersey Legislature, a drone is essentially an unmanned aircraft. But interestingly enough, the term “drone” is never actually used in the bill. Instead, here are some relevant definitions used in the bill:
- “Unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft.”
- “Operate” means to fly, control, direct, or program the flight of an unmanned aircraft system.”
- “Unmanned aircraft system” means an unmanned aircraft and associated elements, including communication links and the components that control the unmanned aircraft, that are required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently.
On January 15, 2018, which was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s last day in office, he signed the bill banning the use of drones while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, or hallucinogenic drugs. New Jersey state legislators unanimously approved this ban on operating drones while inebriated; in fact, the State Senate voted 39-0 and the State Assembly voted 65-0.
According to the bill, “A person commits a disorderly persons offense if he operates an unmanned aircraft system while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a narcotic, hallucinogenic, or habit-producing drug or with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or more by weight of alcohol in the defendant’s blood.” (Note: This 0.08% blood alcohol concentration is the same legal limit for people of legal drinking age (21 and over) who are driving a vehicle.)
If you are convicted in New Jersey of flying a drone with a blood alcohol content of 0.08% or higher, then you may face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. To read the full text of the bill, click here.
“Democratic sponsor Assemblywoman Annette Quijano said in a statement that drones are becoming “increasingly disruptive” and prohibiting inebriated piloting could prevent “dangerous situations” like near-collisions with aircraft and interference with fire-control operations.”
While New Jersey is officially the first state to make “drunk droning” illegal, the National Conference of State Legislatures has said that at least 38 other states are contemplating placing restrictions on drone flying during this current legislative year.
While many people still have no idea what drones are, they are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, “The Consumer Technology Association has forecast that 3.1 million drones were sold in the United States last year , up 28 percent from the year before .”
New Jersey State Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen), the chairman of the Senate budget committee and sponsor of the drunk droning bill, made the following statement, “The use of drones has increased dramatically in recent years for a variety of purposes…there are many benefits for commercial and recreational purposes but they can also pose threats to safety, security and privacy. The technology has outpaced regulations.”
If you have been charged with operating a drone (or a car, motorcycle, truck, commercial vehicle, or boat) while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the potential consequences of a conviction are too steep to fight the legal battle on your own. Here at the Law Office of Eric M. Mark, with convenient office locations in both Jersey City, NJ and Newark, NJ, our criminal defense attorneys are battle-tested and ready to fight for you.
When you hire an experienced independent criminal defense lawyer, like attorney Eric M. Mark and his team of seasoned legal experts, you will have the benefit of having a legal advocate who is exclusively dedicated to your case and will zealously fight for justice on your behalf. While we cannot guarantee any specific outcome for your case, your best chance for a successful case outcome is to retain a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of the New Jersey legal system.
You can reach us at:
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Newark, NJ 07102
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