Bills to criminalize peeping drones passed unanimously, sent to governor _lowres

AP file photo: DroneLinx CEO Steve Metzman operates a drone to make videos and still images of an apartment building.

Drones would have to keep their distance from private properties under a bill that advanced out of committee on Tuesday in the Louisiana Legislature.

The bill would force unmanned aircrafts, many of which have surveillance capabilities, to stay at least 350 feet above ground level from others’ properties.

The bill also would impose criminal penalties for violations of the law ranging from a fine of $100 and 30 days in jail for the first offense, and a fine of up to $1,000 and six months imprisonment for the third and subsequent offenses.

“Any of these things in the hands of the wrong people can be misused,” said state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge.

He said right now drones are mostly unregulated.

“I could run one over an LSU football game if I wanted to and create all kinds of havoc,” Claitor said. “This may not stop bad behavior, but it will make them answerable in some of these instances.”

Claitor’s bill also gives people the right to capture and disable drones that appear on their property without being legally liable.

The bill, whose language was totally substituted and will receive a new number, passed out of Senate Judiciary C Committee Tuesday on a 4-2 vote.

It goes on to the full Senate for consideration next.