Drinking and Droning: No More Drunk Flying

We all know that narcotics and alcohol influence driving ability, but did you know that drunk droning is now a thing? Operating a drone while you’re under the influence has just been made illegal in New Jersey.

Governor Chris Christie just signed a bill into law that, similar to what’s already in place for driving, prohibits operating drones while under the influence of narcotics, alcohol, or any other hallucinogens. Regulations related to drones have also been passed in 17 other states so far. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 38 are currently considering more drone restrictions than they have in place right now. This may put a damper on many people’s recreational activities, but its for good reason it seems!

The Drone Business is Booming

Drone-related accidents haven’t been too much of a problem yet, but they have occurred in the past and with the flying machines being used more, the incidents could increase, so we can’t say we think the new law is a bad idea. Shopping and gambling online are not the only tech-related activities you should avoid after a few drinks anymore!

Drones used for aerial photography is a thriving industry in the United States, and the Consumer Technology Association estimated that 3.1 million drones were sold in the country in 2017. This is 28% more than the 2016 figure. And while most people are using them for innocuous hobbies and leisure activities, there are some who are not, and the potential is there for many other people to use them recklessly or even with dubious intentions. New Jersey, and possibly many other states in North America, is having none of it.

Prohibition of Drunk Droning is Serious

This is not something that the state of New Jersey is taking lightly. If you’re found to be operating a drone and your blood alcohol percentage is 0.08 or higher, you’ll face a $1000 fine, jail time of up to 6 months, or both.

The new law also bans drones from being flown over prisons (presumably so that the layouts can’t be surveyed), from pursuing wildlife, and from interfering with first responders. Frankly, these seem like solid rules to us and it’s a little unnerving that they even need to be written into law at all. But if the world we live in now is one where people who are not qualified to monitor or film wildlife up close will pursue them relentlessly with a drone, or where first responses are interfered with as a joke, then it’s good to know that New Jersey, at least, is not going to tolerate it.

On the other hand, of course, New Jersey’s detailed new legislation may be because this state has more issues with drone abuse than most others. Is the state progressively pre-empting bad behaviour that could occur anywhere, or are folks down there a little more delinquent than other places? All kidding aside, we’re sure it’s the latter, and the new law is an interesting reflection of the kinds of things that technological developments are forcing society to face.