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Proposal would bar drones from military installations

Drone operators could face a state misdemeanor charge for flying drone near state or federal military installations under proposed law.
Drone operators could face a state misdemeanor charge for flying drone near state or federal military installations under proposed law. Tim Dominick

A bill banning drones from flying near state or federal military installations is making its way through the S.C. Legislature.

The proposal underwent minor changes on Tuesday, now calling for drone operators to face a state misdemeanor charge that results in a fine of up to $500 or no more than 30 days in prison if they violate regulations by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Current regulations bar the flying of unmanned aerial vehicles within 400 feet around a military installation without the written consent of the facility’s commander. The proposed law will allow for commanders to call local law enforcement to charge a potential violator instead of having to wait several weeks on a federal agent, said Sen. William Timmons, R-Greenville.

The Senate’s Judiciary Committee advanced the bill to the floor. But with fewer than three weeks left in the Legislative session, the proposal’s chance of becoming law this year is slim. Because this is the first half of a two-year session, however, the bill will remain in cue for when the Legislature returns in January.

The Senate passed a similar bill in February that banned drones from flying near state prisons and county jails. It has languished in a House committee since.

Cynthia Roldán: 803-771-8311, @CynthiaRoldan

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