Is It Illegal To Shoot Down A Drone Flying Over Your Property?

Drone flying is a hobby that more people are getting into. It’s hard to blame them, given how awesome drones are when they’re zooming through the air and performing spectacular maneuvers. Still, it can be annoying when some people go overboard with their drones.

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Your neighbor flying drones is one thing, but it’s different when you start to see their drones intruding on your property. It’s easy to understand why you would get annoyed at that point. Before you do anything rash like shooting down your neighbor’s drone, though, you need to learn about the laws related to them.

Let’s go in-depth on California’s drone laws and discuss what you can and cannot do if one of them is bothering you.

The Different Types of Drones and the Guidelines That Cover Them

To get things started, let’s talk about the kinds of drones that you may find flying around your area. Generally speaking, the drones you see in public are either flown for fun or business.

Why is it important for you to know what kind of drone you’re dealing with? That distinction matters because they impose specific guidelines on drones that depend on their usage.

The Guidelines for Flying Recreational Drones

First, let’s discuss the guidelines concerning recreational drones outlined by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Registration Is a Requirement

Before pilots can take their drone out for a spin, they must first register it. The FAA is in charge of drone registrations. Operators must register their drone under the exception for recreational flyers.

Airspace Restrictions

Drone owners are not allowed to fly their machines anywhere they want.

For instance, there’s a restriction on how high the drones can go. According to the FAA, recreational drones are only allowed to fly at or below 400 feet when they’re in uncontrolled airspace.

Flying their drones inside controlled airspace is also a big no-no for drone operators. They are only exempted from that rule if they are flying within FAA-approved controlled airspace locations.

Recreational drones are not allowed to fly close to other aircraft, airports, groups of people, stadiums, sporting events, military bases, and emergency sites. Failing to abide by those airspace restrictions can land a drone pilot in plenty of hot water.

Safe Drone Flying

Safety is a must when it comes to drones. A crashing drone can still cause a lot of damage after all such as broken bones.

To help curb instances of drone crashes, the FAA places limitations on how you operate the machines.

When it comes to the actual flying, the pilot must always have the drone in their line of sight. The pilot must see their drone using only their eyes or with the help of glasses or contacts. If the pilot needs binoculars to keep track of the drone, then the machine is flying too far.

People are also not allowed to fly drones if they’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Safety can be an issue when it comes to drone operation. You must be sober to fly them correctly and responsibly.

The Guidelines for Flying Business Drones

The rules for operating business drones are a bit different from the ones that govern recreational drones. Operators must note the differences and keep them in mind if they want to avoid getting in trouble.

Proper Registration

Registration remains a requirement for those operating a business drone. This time around, business drone operators must secure a Remote Pilot Certificate.

Part 107 Waiver Exceptions

The restrictions placed on where you can fly the drone and how it’s operated remain the same for recreational and business variants. However, those operating business drones can secure a Part 107 Waiver if they want a bit more freedom when it comes to flying.

With a Part 107 Waiver secured, drone operators may fly in certain restricted areas. They may also fly the drone above people or from a moving vehicle. A single operator can also fly multiple drones simultaneously if their Part 107 Waiver specifically accounts for that.

Securing a Part 107 Waiver may be a necessity for drone operators if they want to get the most out of their machine. Without that waiver, they could run afoul of certain rules.

Upcoming Changes to Drone Operation

New rules related to drone operation are expected to take effect soon, according to the FAA.

Soon, the FAA will issue new guidelines regarding how community-based organizations will be recognized. There’s also a new rule that will require drone operators to pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety exam. Upon passing the exam, the drone operator will receive proof that they passed the test, and they must hold on to that.

Make sure you keep those rules in mind as well because they could come in handy when dealing with your neighbor’s drones in the future.

What You Should Do if a Drone Is Flying over Your Property

A drone flying over your property by mistake one time is understandable. Perhaps your neighbor is still getting the hang of operating their new toy, and they accidentally flew too close to your home.

It’s different when that happens all the time, though. You may even start to think that your neighbor is flying over your property on purpose.

So, what should you do when faced with such a problem? Let’s discuss the steps you need to take below.

Keep Your Cool

Seeing your neighbor’s drone constantly crossing into your property can be infuriating. It may tempt you to react forcefully by shooting down their annoying aircraft.

We urge you against doing anything that drastic, though. Shooting down your neighbor’s drone can be interpreted as a violation of the Aircraft Sabotage Act.

Per the Cornell Law School, violating the Aircraft Sabotage Act could lead to you facing a hefty fine and prison time. Violating that law carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. On top of those penalties, you may need to pay for the drone and any damage it causes as it crashes to the ground.

Simply put, shooting a drone is a terrible idea. You’ll need to come up with other ways to get rid of your drone problem.

Talk to the Drone Operator

There may be a misunderstanding between you and the drone operator. They may have felt comfortable flying the drone close to your home because you’ve never complained about it before.

Your neighbor may also be unaware that they’re crossing over to your property. That tends to happen if there are no barriers that separate the properties. You may be noticing the drone flying over the property line, but your neighbor may be oblivious to it.

To smooth things over, try talking to your neighbor first. Talking to them in person is probably the best way to go about this.

Tell them about your concerns regarding their drone and ask them to stop flying it over your property. Hopefully, they’ll be reasonable about the whole thing, and the two of you can put this matter to rest.

Collect Evidence of Irresponsible Drone Operation

Bust out your phone and record the drone flying over your property. You can use the recordings as evidence to show your neighbor has been using their drone improperly.

Contact the Authorities

You tried talking to your neighbor about their drone flying habits, and those talks went nowhere. It’s time to try something else. Contact the local authorities or the FAA and tell them about the drone that’s been pestering your property.

Remember those guidelines we discussed earlier? You can check to see if your neighbor is violating some of them. The authorities will act if your neighbor has been operating their drone irresponsibly, so send them any evidence you have of that.

Pursue Legal Action against the Drone Operator

Do you want to teach your neighbor a lesson about respecting another person’s privacy? In that case, it may be worth your time to check if they violated any potential laws.

The ones you specifically need to look at are the “peeping tom” and invasion of privacy laws.

California’s “peeping tom” laws prevent anyone from lingering or prowling on another person’s private property if they are not supposed to be there. Your neighbor may also be invading your privacy if there’s a telescope on their drone that they’re using to get a better look at your home.

Observe your neighbor’s drone closely to see if they may be violating either of those laws.

If you believe that your neighbor has indeed violated some laws while operating their drone, you can talk to your lawyer about that. Consult with your lawyer and ask what charges you can file against your neighbor. The evidence you collected earlier may also prove helpful now as you try to prove they violated the law.

Individuals found guilty of violating “peeping tom” or invasion of privacy laws can receive up to $1000 and spend six months in jail.

How Much Can You Receive as Compensation from Your Neighbor?

Let’s say that you decided to move forward with legal actions against your neighbor. You’re probably seeking compensation as well for the disturbances your neighbor has caused.

Don’t set your expectations too high, though.

Unless your neighbor has damaged a part of your property already, recouping a significant amount of compensation from them will be difficult. You may also have a hard time showing how their actions caused you physical harm and can lower your chances of receiving a financial award.

The reason why pursuing legal action against your neighbor in this scenario makes sense is because you want their irresponsible drone flying to stop. The financial incentive isn’t that great.

What You Should Do about Noisy Drones

A drone flying over your property is not the only problem you need to deal with. Your neighbor’s drone could still be a problem even if it’s just hovering over their property due to the noise it is making.

Drones can get noisy. If your neighbor uses their drone all the time, you may not experience any relief from the noises at all. The noise coming from the drones may cause an injury to someone in your household that specifically affects their hearing.

You must do something to keep you and your family protected from the noise of your neighbor’s drone.

Ask Your Neighbor to Change How They Operate Their Drone

Once again, the recommended first step is to have a discussion with your neighbor. Your neighbor may have already built up a tolerance to the noise of their drone given how often they use it. Because of that, they may be unaware of how disruptive it is while flying.

Talk to your neighbor about their drone and ask if they could fly it a little higher. The noise won’t be as bad if the drone is higher up from the ground.

You may also want to remind your neighbor that there are noise limitations in your neighborhood. They may be more inclined to change how they use their drones after learning that they could be breaking some laws.

Report Your Neighbor to the Authorities

The hope is that your neighbor will listen to your request regarding how they fly their drones. If they aren’t willing to listen, your only option again is to get the authorities involved.

Report your noisy neighbors either to the local authorities or to the FAA. They can do something about those noisy drones.

Drones are incredible products of modern technology, but they can also turn into a neighborhood nuisance when operated by an irresponsible person. Get rid of your drone problem by trying out the tips above.

If you need help regarding any legal matters related to the drone conflict, please feel free to contact us at the Saeedian Law Group. We’ll get right to work so you can resolve the matter as soon as possible.