New Jersey considers barring operating a drone while drunk

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TRENTON -

New Jersey lawmakers are moving ahead with legislation that would make it illegal to operate a drone while drunk.

The legislation cleared an Assembly committee on Monday and is up for a vote in the full Senate on Thursday. Both chambers are controlled by Democrats.

Under the bill it would be illegal to operate a drone while under the influence of alcohol, narcotics, hallucinogens or other habit-producing drugs. Violators would be subject to a disorderly persons offense, which carries a sentence of up to six months in prison, a $1,000 fine or both. 

The bill also would make using a drone to hunt wildlife and endanger people or property a similar offense.

“Drones can be fun, but they have the potential to be dangerous if not used correctly,” said Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-Atlantic) in a statement. “Establishing clear guidelines about how they can and cannot be used can help preserve public safety and prevent people from using them as criminal accessories.”

The National Conference on State Legislatures says at least 38 states are considering drone legislation this year, going beyond the Federal Aviation Administration's regulations.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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