Pennsylvania’s Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously approved a measure that would penalize unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operators for flying their aircraft over certain facilities in Pennsylvania, according to bill sponsor Sen. David G. Argall, R-Schuylkill/Berks.
S.B.1323 – which was amended to include provisions making it a felony to drop illegal contraband over federal, state and county prisons – would place penalties on UAV operators who fly drones over critical facilities without the property owner’s consent.
“As this technology becomes more readily available at a price point most consumers can afford, we need to make sure that no one is using these machines in a way that would jeopardize the life and safety of Pennsylvanians,” Argall says. “This commonsense approach mirrors efforts in other states in order to safeguard citizens.”
The legislation defines critical facilities as corrections facilities, power generation facilities, public safety or emergency operations facilities, military installations, hospitals, government-owned property, airports and heliports, refineries, chemical plants, and nuclear power plants. The committee added natural gas facilities, oil or gas drilling and production facilities, and natural gas storage facilities.
Under the bill, drone operators caught flying their aircraft over these facilities for the first time would be subject to a second-degree misdemeanor charge and a fine up to $5,000. Each subsequent offense would subject the operator to a first-degree misdemeanor charge and a fine up to $10,000.