It is no secret that there are a lot of hobbyists now flying drones for fun. But, one man’s fun can be another man’s annoyance. In a recent case, a man in Kentucky shot down a drone that was flying over his yard and spying on his sunbathing daughter, or so he thought. It only took a shotgun blast to bring the trespassing aircraft down and that was that. Right? Not quite. The property owner who shot down the drone was charged with breaking a variety of state laws and he may be charged with breaking a federal law. This may sound insane to some people, but the facts are the facts.
Drones in civilian hands is a relatively new experience in America; at least at the numbers we are seeing today. One issue that is popping up when it comes to drone use and abuse is what, exactly, can a drone operator do and not do. And, likewise, what rights do property owners have when it comes to dealing with unwelcome visitors over their land? There are very few answers to these questions as of right now. But, that will have to change.
In those areas, such as Kentucky, that do have a few laws on the books concerning drones, the laws are inconsistent, vague, and often contradictory. This leaves property owners are risk, as this Kentucky man found out.
There is one law, a federal one, that we all need to know about. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) considers drones to be civil aircraft. They have a long-standing law against destroying civil aircraft that is in flight. What this means is that if you shoot down a drone, for any reason, you might find yourself charged with a federal crime that, if convicted, could land you in prison for up to 20 years.
But is it legal for someone to fly a drone over your property or home? The answer is yes. Drones, like any other aircraft, are allowed to fly over as long as they are at a certain height which can vary from state to state. For instance, in Nevada, drones have to stay above 250 feet. What about my privacy and property rights? Well, put simply, you have none. If a drone is simply flying over, and it is above the minimum height level, it is not breaking any law and you are not allowed to blast it out of the sky.
You can, however, track down the operator of the drone (who is supposed to be in line-of-sight) and ask them to go away if you believe they are doing something sinister. You can also ask the local police to intervene. If the drone is posing a risk to others, a real risk, you should report it to the FAA.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of Patriot Surplus.