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The popularity of “Small Unmanned Arial Systems” or “sUAS,” which most people know as “drones” has exploded in the last few years. The use of drones in commercial photography, filmmaking, surveillance, wildlife management, and even farming, has transformed these industries. Hobbyists have also made drones an affordable and often useful tool for vacation videos, photos, or just having fun.

What most people don’t know is that the federal government, as well as many state and local counterparts, have passed laws to regulate, and mostly restrict, drone use by civilians. Operating a drone is not as easy a buying one and flying it around the neighborhood or at the beach on vacation. The latest drones available to the public from companies like DJI, Yuneec, and Parrot, can fly hundreds of feet into the air and miles away from the operator. The various levels of government which regulate drones do not consider these flying machines toys. The law treats drones in similar ways to other aircraft. In short, many people who just want a new toy to play with may get a rude awakening. Many federal and state drone usage violations carry significant fines and even the possibility of jail time. For example, most people have no idea there are drone exclusion zones everywhere. Trying to fly a drone in a major urban area will most likely result in the unwary drone operator violating someone’s airspace. If you are charged with operating a drone illegally, it’s essential to get in touch with a Las Vegas criminal lawyer immediately.

In Nevada, the laws restricting drone operations are found in NRS §493. Nevada has specific laws allowing landowners to sue drone pilots for “trespass” over their land (NRS §493.103). Nevada also prohibits the “weaponizing” of drones (NRS §493.106) and the operation of drones near “critical facilities” or within 5 miles of any airport. (NRS §493.109)

The Federal Government has tasked the Department of Transportation with regulating drones. Federal Code of Regulations (CFR) Title 14, subchapter I (Federal Aviation Administration-FAA), Subchapter F (Air Traffic) Part 107 (Small Unmanned Arial Systems) is where operators can find the federal rules regarding drones. It is important to note that although there are gray areas in the laws with respect to overlapping and competing state, local, and federal laws, the FAA has sole civilian authority over the airspace of the United States. In many cases, for example, a drone pilot being prosecuted for violating state or local laws can challenge those laws as being in conflict or in violation of federal law. Part 107 regulates everything from requiring all drones to be registered with the FAA (§107.13) and making it necessary for all drone pilots to have a “pilot’s certificate. (§107.12). Every drone pilot is required to know Part 107, which regulates such things as where, when, and how to operate a drone. It also prohibits flying over populated areas, flying over 400 feet, and even flying near clouds.

Drone sightings have closed down major airports for hours. The danger drones pose to commercial aircraft is significant, and violations near airports can result in arrest and prosecution in federal court. Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer Gabriel L. Grasso can help if you are charged with a local, state, or federal sUAS violation. Huge fines, jail time, and even prison sentences can result if drone laws are violated. Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer Gabriel L. Grasso is experienced in defending people charged with unlawfully operating a drone during personal or commercial flying. If the feds charge you with violating Part 107, or by a state or local authority with violating state law or local ordinances on drones, call Gabriel L. Grasso for a free drone pilot defense consultation today. 702-868-8866.