Over 100 Not Guilty Verdicts At Trial | Over 2,000 Dismissals
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Flying an unmanned aerial system (UAS) – also known as a drone – is not illegal in the state of Florida. It is very possible though to commit a crime that is not aimed at drones, or find yourself with some other kind of infraction while flying one. This article will describe those infractions.
If you or someone you know has been charged with an infraction using a drone, it is imperative to hire an experienced attorney who can help make sure your rights are protected. To potentially avoid very harsh punishments, contact the attorneys at the Pumphrey Law at (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation regarding your alleged infraction.
The Pumphrey Law has a great deal of experience representing Florida residents accused of many different types civil infractions.
Drone infractions are just beginning to be enforced by Florida. Across the nation the FAA regularly cites UAS infractions. The FAA estimated 2.5 million UASs are already being flown, and believes that number will be at least 5 million by the end of 2017. In the next three years, this could be at least 7 million. This increase of drone use is going to lead to more citations in Florida, and across the country.
Before flying a drone, ensure you are complying with FAA rules, whether you’re flying for fun, or if you’re using it to make money. Strict compliance with FAA regulations does not ensure that you won’t be cited here in Florida though.
Florida drone laws lay out how what citizens and law enforcement can and cannot do with drones.
The most common way to be cited while using a drone is by breaking FAA rules as a hobbyist or a professional. It is strongly recommended to contact an attorney who is prepared to assist you if you have any questions about the complicated FAA requirements.
In Florida, there are a lot of ways you can face non-criminal punishments:
According to Florida Statutes § 934.50, you cannot use a drone for any kind of surveillance of people or property unless you fit into one of a few categories, discussed in our Florida drone laws blog article. If you break this, the person or the owner of the property photographed or videotaped has a case to sue.
You also cannot attach any kind of weapon, or destructive device to a drone, according to Florida Statutes § 330.411.
Luckily local governments are no longer allowed to create laws which impose criminal liability for flying a drone, or any kind of fines, according to Florida Statutes § 330.41 (3).
Florida Statutes are not the only source of these punishments though.
Photographing or following a particular person can also be used as alleged grounds for a protective order. These are usually referred to as “restraining orders.” These orders prevent you from owning or possessing firearms and can seriously impact your professional and private life for years.
Those who already have a protective order placed against them could easily violate that using a drone, and even face criminal punishment for that infraction.
Universities – such as Florida State University here in Tallahassee – have their own drone polices. Whether or not these policies restricting drone use are valid even with the passing of Florida Statutes § 330.41 in the summer of 2017 remains to be seen. Students should be especially careful when flying a drone, because infractions can cloud your academic future forever.
Aside from these civil drone infractions, there are also various crimes that drone pilots have to be careful of.
If you have been served with a temporary injunction for stalking, or any of these other infractions, contact the attorneys at the Pumphrey Law to discuss the facts of your particular situation. The attorneys at the Pumphrey Law are experienced with responding to these types of accusations. Contact us at (850) 681-7777 for a free consultation about your alleged infraction.
This article was last updated December 1, 2017.
 Federal Aviation Administration, FAA Aerospace Forecast: Fiscal Years 2016-2036 31 (2016), https://www.faa.gov/data_research/aviation/aerospace_forecasts/media/FY2016-36_FAA_Aerospace_Forecast.pdf.
(Note: We have been contacted by readers lately asking for clarification on the registration requirement. The registration requirement is now MANDATORY for all UAS operators, both hobby and commercial. For some background on why there is a question, check out the Taylor decision from this summer, which ruled that the FAA cannot regulate model aircraft at all. On December 12, 2017, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 became law*. This bill reinstated the drone/UAS registration requirement that was struck down in Taylor when flying as a model aircraft. Pumphrey Law has always recommended registration, believing it is better safe than sorry. Now hobbyists can be directly fined by the FAA for failing to register. The registration can be found here. More information regarding this change can be found here.
* Sect. 1092. COLLABORATION BETWEEN FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION AND DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ON UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS.
“(d) Restoration Of Rules For Registration And Marking Of Unmanned Aircraft.—The rules adopted by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration in the matter of registration and marking requirements for small unmanned aircraft (FAA-2015-7396; published on December 16, 2015) that were vacated by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Taylor v. Huerta (No. 15-1495; decided on May 19, 2017) shall be restored to effect on the date of enactment of this Act.”)
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.
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