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.
House committee substitute makes the following changes to the 1st edition:
Amends the definitions in proposed GS 15A-300.1 adding and defining model aircraft. Amends the definition of unmanned aircraft to provide that it is operated without human intervention within or on the aircraft and that it does not meet the definition of a model aircraft. Amends general prohibitions for using an unmanned aircraft system, providing that surveillance of a person or dwelling without that person's consent is generally prohibited (previously, prohibited without written consent) and prohibits surveillance of private real property without consent (was, specified types of agricultural property).
Amends law enforcement exceptions to the prohibition on surveillance, providing that the use of unmanned aircraft is prohibited when the Secretary of the NC Department of Public Safety has determined credible intelligence of a high risk of a terrorist attack exists (previously, only provided for the previous exception when the US Secretary of Homeland Security determines such a risk). Also provides an exception for the use of the unmanned aircraft by law enforcement to conduct surveillance in an area that is within a law enforcement officer's plain view from an area when the officer has a legal right to be. Deletes an exception for when surveillance is conducted that would not require a warrant if done by manned aircraft.
Adds new provisions allowing commercial and private unmanned aircraft systems to be equipped with infrared or other thermal imaging technology only when used for the sole purpose of scientific investigation and research, mapping or investigating farming operations, forest management and vegetation or wildlife. Provides for a civil cause of action against the person or entity that uses unmanned aircraft to publish or disseminate photographs taken in violation of this section. Provides for an election of damages in the amount of $5,000 for each photograph or video improperly taken and published/disseminated, plus reasonable costs and attorneys' fees, as well as the possibility of other relief or damages as determined by the court.
Enacts new GS 15A-300.2, Regulation of launch and recovery sites, providing that no unmanned aircraft systems can be launched or recovered from any state or private property without consent. Further provides that local governments can adopt an ordinance regulating the use of local government property for launch or recovery of unmanned aircraft.
Amends the punishment levels in proposed GS 14-401.24 for unlawful possession/use of an unmanned aircraft providing that it is a Class E felony (was, Class I) to possess or use an unmanned aircraft that has a weapon attached and it is a Class 1 misdemeanor (was, Class 3) for any person to fish or hunt with an unmanned aircraft.
Enacts new GS 14-401.25 providing that it is a Class A1 misdemeanor to publish or disseminate recorded images by a person/non-law enforcement entity by using infrared or other thermal imaging technology attached to an unmanned aircraft that reveals individuals and materials inside of a structure without the consent of the property owner.
Amends GS 113-295 to provide that it is a Class 1 misdemeanor to use an unmanned aircraft to unlawfully harass people taking wildlife resources.
Amends GS 63-96, concerning licenses for operation of the unmanned aircraft, providing an age restriction of 18 years to qualify for a license (was, 21 years in the previous edition). Also provides that a person who operates an unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes not sanctioned by the section is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor (was, Class 3 misdemeanor).
Amends the dates for the Division of Aviation of the Department of Transportation to develop and implement a knowledge and skills test for the operation of an unmanned aircraft, requiring it to be implemented no later than May 31, 2015 (was, February 1, 2015). Requires the Division to also report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the status of the implementation by June 15, 2015 (was, March 1, 2015).
Amends the effective dates for the act, providing that Section 1 of this act becomes effective October 1, 2014, applying to acts occurring on or after that date. Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 of the act are effective December 1, 2014, applying to offenses committed on or after that date. Section 8 of the act will become effective when the Division of Aviation has implemented the knowledge and skills test required by G.S. 63-95 or by May 31, 2015, whichever occurs first. The remainder of the act is effective when it becomes law.
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