Public Service, Regulatory

Curious Drones May Face Litigation… and Destruction

By Staff Writer | July 23, 2015
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Bills proposed in the California legislature would make flying UAVs over a fire illegal, while permitting authorities to destroy them by available means. Senate Bill 168, proposed on Monday, would legally protect emergency workers if they damaged unmanned aircraft interfering with a rescue operation—though exactly how a firefighter would safely destroy a UAV is still unclear. This latest bill comes shortly after drones delayed attempts to put out a July 17 wildfire that spread across California's Interstate 15, trapping motorists and forcing them to flee on foot. Water bucket equipped helicopters had to wait while five drones were hovering in the airspace over the blaze. "If our helicopter made contact with that drone, it can cause an accident, it can kill a firefighter or two, it could injure people on the ground," said Randall Wright of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The second of the two bills, SB 167, would add an increase in fines (above the current $1,000) and potential jail time for operating a UAV over a fire.

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