- Associated Press - Thursday, December 7, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - State lawmakers on Thursday passed legislation that would bar people from operating drones while drunk.

The National Conference on State Legislatures says at least 38 states are considering drone legislation this year, going beyond the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulations.

The New Jersey bill would make operating a drone under the influence of alcohol a disorderly person offense, which carries a sentence of up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine or both, upon conviction. It also would make using a drone to hunt wildlife and endanger people or property a similar offense.

The Democrat-led Senate approved the legislation 39-0. Lawmakers say the changes are aimed at pre-empting local ordinances that might vary.

Democratic state Sen. Paul Sarlo, who authored the legislation, said it’s an attempt to “pro-actively” regulate drones and is not in response to any particular incident.

The legislation also would bar using drones to endanger safety at correctional facilities or interfering with first responders engaged in transport.

A number of states, including Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin, have offered legislation addressing the use of drones near prisons.

The New Jersey bill has cleared an Assembly committee but has not been scheduled for a vote there.


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