ASSEMBLY, No. 4091

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 6, 2013

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  ERIK PETERSON

District 23 (Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Prohibits the use of drones by law enforcement entities.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning police surveillance and supplementing Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.  For the purposes of this act,

     “Unmanned aerial system” means an aerial vehicle that uses aerodynamic forces to propel the vehicle and does not carry a human operator, and which is capable of flying autonomously or being piloted remotely and is capable of conducting surveillance as defined by this section; and

     “Surveillance” means the act of monitoring, observing, photographing, listening to, or making a recording of a person or group of persons or their movements, activities and communications.

     b.    No law enforcement agency or officer shall utilize an unmanned aerial system to conduct surveillance as defined under subsection a. of this section or to gather any evidence or engage in any other law enforcement activity.

     c.     No State officer or any officer or agency of local government responsible for the implementation or enforcement of land-use and building regulations established by or pursuant to the “State Uniform Construction Code Act,” P.L.1975, c.217 (C.52:27D-119 et seq.) or the “Municipal Land Use Law,” P.L.1975, c.291 (C.40:55D-1 et seq.) shall utilize an unmanned aerial system to conduct surveillance or to investigate, prosecute or cause to be prosecuted violators of the provisions of the “State Uniform Construction Code Act” or the “Municipal Land Use Law.”

     d.    The provisions of subsection b. of this section prohibiting a law enforcement agency or officer from utilizing an unmanned aerial system shall not apply if:

     (1)   the United States Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security determines that credible intelligence indicates that the use of a drone is necessary to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization; or

     (2)   the unmanned aerial system is utilized by the forest fire service established under the Department of Environmental Protection pursuant to R.S.13:9-1 et seq. to survey or monitor the extent of a forest fire.

     e.     In addition to any other right of action or recovery otherwise available under the laws of this State, a law enforcement agency or officer who knowingly violates the provisions of this act shall be liable to a plaintiff whose image was taken or who was the subject of surveillance, or who was the subject of any other law enforcement activity conducted in violation of this section.  The plaintiff may bring a civil action in the Superior Court, and the court may award actual damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorney's fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred, and any other preliminary and equitable relief as the court determines to be appropriate.

     f.     Any evidence derived from the use of an unmanned aerial system in violation of this section shall not be used as evidence in a criminal prosecution.

     g.     No law enforcement agency or officer shall utilize an unmanned aerial system in accordance with subsection d. of this section at an altitude that is greater than 350 feet.

 

     2.    This bill shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill prohibits the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as drones, by law enforcement entities in this State.  In February, the President of the United States signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.  This act mandates that the Federal Aviation Administration administer a program that integrates the use of drones into the national airspace system.

     Under the provisions of the bill, a law enforcement agency or officer is prohibited from utilizing a drone unless the United States Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security determines that credible intelligence indicates that the use of a drone is necessary to counter a high risk of a terrorist attack by a specific individual or organization.  In addition, the bill prohibits any State officer or any officer or agency of local government responsible from utilizing a drone to enforce the land-use and building regulations established under the “State Uniform Construction Code Act” or the “Municipal Land Use Law.” The bill waives the prohibition on using drones for the forest fire service established under the Department of Environmental Protection when the service or any members of the service utilize a drone to survey or monitor the extent of a forest fire.  Finally, that a law enforcement entity or forest fire service that utilizes a drone is prohibited from operating the drone at an altitude of greater than 350 feet.

     Any person whose image was taken, who was the subject of surveillance, or any other law enforcement activity in violation of the bill’s provisions may bring a civil action against the law enforcement agency or officer in the Superior Court.  The court may award actual damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorney's fees and other litigation costs reasonably incurred, and any other preliminary and equitable relief as the court determines to be appropriate.

     The bill provides that any evidence illegally derived from the use of a drone is not to be used as evidence in a criminal prosecution.