Just to be clear, the drone ban being sought by state Sen. Patricia Bates has nothing to do with limiting the floor speeches of Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton). No, the Laguna Niguel Republican has instead co-authored a bill that would make it a crime to fly a drone over a wildfire.
Along with co-authors Sens. Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado), Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) and Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale), Bates claimed Wednesday SB 167 is necessary to keep drones from causing crashes with emergency vehicles such as helicopters or planes that fight fires.
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"Firefighters face tremendous risk and the last thing they need is to have a drone get in their way and potentially cause a catastrophic crash of public safety aircraft," Bates said. "That is why we need to make it crystal clear that flying a drone in a fire zone is unacceptable and will be strongly punished. A person's hobby should not put the lives of our firefighters at risk."
Currently, it is a misdemeanor to interfere with firefighting efforts, which is punishable by a $1,000 fine. Under SB 167, violators could face a $5,000 fine and up to six months in jail.
And who knows if they'll give the flame-scorched drone back?