Recreational drones have been spotted flying above penitentiaries around the United States, with the most recent spotting occurring over the Draper Utah prison.
Drug smuggling drones
A guard caught sight of recreational drones flying over one of the outdoor yard areas for inmates at the Draper Utah prison . The yard was shut down and all inmates ordered inside while prison personnel made sure that nothing dangerous or illegal was dropped. The concern for recreational drones doing more than viewing may stem from incidents around the United States where similar drones were used to smuggle drugs or tobacco into prisons.
Illegal and improper use
In addition to using drones to intentionally break the law, many hobbyists are not following the guidelines set in place for the unmanned aircraft systems. Like any vehicle or aircraft, recreational drones have rules such as:
• Keeping the drone visible to the operator
• Staying away from people
• staying under the 55 lb. weight limit
• Not flying for a profit and
• Flying safely, not recklessly
There are also restricted areas where recreational drone use is prohibited such as:
• National Parks
• Military sites
• Above 400 feet
Besides recreational drones being flown over restricted areas, they have also been spotted by firefighters battling wildfires and by residents who are concerned over privacy matters. Recreational drone owners need to remember common sense and common courtesy when operating a unmanned aircraft system.
FAA penalties for recreational drones
According to the Federal Aviation Association, “Hobby or recreational flying doesn’t require FAA approval but you must follow safety guidelines.” They also state that “Unauthorized drone operators may be subject to fines of up to $25,000 and up to 20 years in jail.” For legal counsel regarding illegal use of recreational drones, contact a criminal defense attorney.