Using drones to harass hunters? You’ll have to stop starting Monday as North Carolina becomes the latest state to ban that activity as part of a new law regulating the use of drones.
The drone law is one of several that become effective Monday. Here’s a closer look at eight areas where new laws must be obeyed.
Legislators picked up on reports of animal rights activists using drones to interfere with or monitor wildlife hunting and followed the lead of states such as Illinois and Alabama that have passed laws to combat drone operators crossing the line into hunter harassment. Violations are misdemeanors.
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Hunters can’t use drones, either. Another provision in the law bans drones for hunting and fishing. Violators will be committing misdemeanors, unless the drone has a gun attached. Possessing weapon-outfitted drones will be a felony.
Other new drone regulations include a ban on using a drone to willfully interfere with a manned aircraft’s takeoff, landing or flight – a felony. In addition, it will be a misdemeanor to publish or disseminate invasive photos or video captured without consent by way of infrared cameras attached to drones.
The penalty rises to a felony for poaching Venus flytraps in North Carolina. Fines also increase for stealing other state-protected plants, such as lilies, pitcher plants, Dutchman’s breeches and orchids.
The law will also begin to count each plant taken as an individual offense.
Offenders could face fines of $75 to $150 per stolen plant. The previous range was $10 to $50.
Anyone with access who “knowingly and willfully” discloses the makeup of fracking fluid – lawfully protected as a trade secret – may be charged with a misdemeanor.
Prisons will be able to give or sell e-cigarettes, nicotine gum, patches and other cessation tools to inmates.
But anyone who gives or sells a cellphone to an inmate, and any inmate who possesses a cellphone, may be charged with a felony (previously a misdemeanor).
Agricultural facilities are added to the list of places where uninvited parties may be charged with first-degree trespassing.
The penalty rises to a felony for anyone guilty of a second or subsequent offense of carrying concealed firearms in public without a permit.
Detention officers working for a sheriff can carry weapons on school grounds when discharging their official duties.
Air rifles and BB guns are no longer defined as “dangerous firearms” in Anson, Cleveland, Harnett, Stanly and Surry counties. They’ve opted out of that definition in a section of law that deals with children using guns under adult supervision. BB guns and the like are still “dangerous firearms” in Caldwell, Durham, Forsyth, Gaston, Haywood, Mecklenburg, Stokes, Union and Vance counties.
Protecting those who serve
Anyone who assaults or threatens another person as retaliation against any legislative officer, executive officer or court officer for doing his or her job may be charged with a felony. It’s already felonious to attack or threaten those officers directly; the new law seeks to protect their families and associates, as well as their offices, homes and cars.
An individual charged with a criminal offense may waive a jury trial and instead let a judge handle the case (unless the state is seeking a death sentence).
Voters approved that constitutional change in the November election.
Benjamin Brown writes for NCInsider.com, a government news service owned by The News & Observer.