A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT TO REGULATE THE USE OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS, AS RECOMMENDED BY THE LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH COMMISSION'S COMMITTEE ON UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS.
Enacts a new Article 16B in GS Chapter 15A. New GS 15A-300.1(a) defines the following terms as they apply in this section: (1) manned aircraft – an aircraft as defined in GS 63-1, operated by a person in or on the aircraft; (2) unmanned aircraft – an aircraft as defined in GS 63-1 that is operated without the possibility of human intervention from within or on the aircraft; and (3) unmanned aircraft system – includes an unmanned aircraft and all its associated elements required for the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently in the national airspace system. Subsection (b) of this section prohibits a person, an entity, or a state agency from using an unmanned aircraft system to conduct surveillance of (1) an individual, or an individual’s dwelling and the dwelling’s curtilage, without written consent from the individual or (2) a farm, dairy, ranch, or other agricultural industry without written consent of the owner of the agricultural industry. Also prohibits photographing an individual for the purpose of publishing or otherwise publicly disseminating the photograph without the individual’s written consent. GS 15A-300.1(b)(2) makes an exception to provide that this subdivision does not apply to newsworthy events or events to which the public is invited. GS 15A-300.1(c) provides that regardless of the provisions of subsection (b) of this section, a state law enforcement agency or a political subdivision of the state is not prohibited from using unmanned aircraft systems in the following instances: (1) to counter a high-risk terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization if the US Secretary of Homeland Security finds that credible intelligence determines that the risk exists; (2) to conduct surveillance that wouldn’t require a warrant if done by a manned aircraft; (3) if the law enforcement agency obtains a search warrant authorizing the use of an unmanned aircraft system; (4) when a law enforcement agency has reasonable suspicion that swift action is needed to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, to prevent the imminent escape of a suspect or serious destruction of property, or to facilitate the search for a missing person; and (5) to photograph public gatherings on public or private land. Provides that a person who is the subject of unwarranted surveillance or whose picture is taken in violation of GS 15A-300.1, has a civil cause of action against the person, entity, or state agency engaging in the unwarranted surveillance or that uses an unmanned aircraft system to photograph the person in violation of this section. Declares that evidence obtained in violation of this section is not admissible in a criminal prosecution in any court of law in North Carolina. All of the previous provisions are effective when the Division of Aviation of the Department of Transportation has implemented the knowledge and skills test as required under this act or February 1, 2015, whichever comes first.
Enacts a new Article 2F in GS Chapter 14 regarding crimes committed via use of unmanned aircraft systems. Declares that all crimes committed via use of an unmanned aircraft system while that system is in flight over this state are to be governed by the laws of North Carolina and the determination as to whether the conduct of the unmanned aircraft system is a crime is to be determined by the laws of this state. Adds a new section GS 14-280.3 to Article 36 of GS Chapter 14 making interference with a manned aircraft by unmanned aircraft systems a Class H felony. Amends Article 52 of GS Chapter 14 by adding a new GS 14-401.24 to make unlawful possession or use of an unmanned aircraft system with a weapon attached a Class I felony and to make it a Class 3 misdemeanor for any person to fish or hunt using an unmanned aircraft system. Provides definitions of terms used as they apply to this section. Specifies that this section does not prohibit possession or usage of an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system that is authorized by federal law or regulations. All of the provisions in these sections are effective December 1, 2014, and apply to offenses committed on or after that date.
Enacts new Article 10 of GS Chapter 63 regarding the operation of unmanned aircraft systems. Delineates training requirements for operation of unmanned aircraft systems and licensing requirements for commercial operation of unmanned aircraft systems. Directs the Division of Aviation of the Department of Transportation (Division) to develop and administer a program to license operators of unmanned aircraft systems for commercial purposes. Prescribes the components that the program must include, including that the licensee be at least 21. Requires the Division to develop a knowledge and skills test for the operation of an unmanned aircraft system that complies with all applicable state and federal regulations. Directs the Division to provide for the administration of the knowledge and skills test. Provides that a first violation of the requirements for licensing and operation of an unmanned aircraft as set out in this section is an infraction and a second or subsequent offense is a Class 3 misdemeanor. Authorizes the Division to issue rules and regulations to implement the provisions of this section.
Sets out implementation and reporting deadlines.
Repeals Section 7.16(e) of SL 2013-360, which prohibits state or local government entities from procuring or operating an unmanned aircraft system or disclosing personal information about any person acquired through the operation of an unmanned aircraft system unless the State CIO approves an exception that specifically grants such disclosure. Effective when the Division has implemented the knowledge and skills test as required under this act or February 1, 2015, whichever comes first.
Except as otherwise indicated, this act is effective when it becomes law.
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