Proposed drone bill could provide protection for property owners

Photo by Miguel Ángel Hernández on Unsplash

In the Oklahoma legislature, they are debating a bill that could limit drone use over private properties. State Senator Casey Murdock sponsored the bill, saying that it would essentially allow law enforcement officers to give the equivalent of a speeding ticket for those found in violation of the law. However, with a possible penalty of up to one year in prison, it is certainly a harsh speeding ticket. It may be necessary though, as the bill could help protect property owners.

The bill would only affect flying unmanned aircraft that flew 400 feet or lower over a private property. The bill also only affects drones flown over rural properties, and would not extend to urban areas. Those flying drones for the state or federal government, law enforcement, or to assist with utility, oil, and gas operations are exempt from the law. In addition, if a property owner provides written consent to the drone, drone operators could still fly their aircraft over a certain property.

“The problem is, if a visitor is lawfully on someone’s property, the drone operator could lose control of the aircraft or a defective drone could crash into the visitor. When this happens on a person’s property, any visitors hit could hold the owner of that property liable. That is simply not fair when the property owner has no control over it,” says Matthew Saint of Saint & Watzke, PLLP.

That could be true, even though drones are largely considered trespassers once they cross over onto private property. In the legislature, supporters of the bill also stated that it would help prevent peeping toms and other types of malicious acts that can be perpetrated when someone can look onto someone else’s property unnoticed.

The reason for limiting the use of drones in rural areas only was also something that was taken into consideration. Individuals in these areas away from large cities are often also miles away from the police. Lawmakers are hoping an actual law would help these individuals by limiting the use of drones and therefore, limiting the amount of drone-related complaints they receive.