Bill Would Stiffen Penalties For Illegal Drone Operations

Feb 8, 2019

Credit Oregon State University /

People who fly their drones too close to airplanes would face stiffer penalties under a measure up for a possible vote in the Oregon Senate's Judiciary Committee on Monday.

Drones can offer their users a unique perspective from the air. But flying them near traditional airplanes and helicopters is a big no-no. Airborne firefighters were grounded due to nearby drone activity at least twice in Oregon last summer. There have been similar incidents in other western states, prompting the Bureau of Land Management to release a public service announcement.

The Oregon bill is sponsored by Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene. It would raise the penalty for operating a drone too close to an airplane from a violation to a misdemeanor. Those convicted would spend at least two days behind bars and owe a fine of at least $1,000. They would also be prohibited from flying a drone, known in state law as an "unmanned aircraft system," for one year.

A second conviction would lead to a five-year ban on operating drones, and would allow authorities to confiscate the drone used in the offense.