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As drone demand soars, New Jersey poised to bar drunken droning

From Reuters - January 4, 2018

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. drone sales in 2017 topped $1 billion for the first time ever, but dont raise a glass too quickly if you are in New Jersey, where lawmakers are poised to outlaw drunken droning next week.

It is one of a wave of U.S. states moving to bring the unmanned aircrafts high-flying fun back to earth.

New Jerseys Assembly is slated to vote on a bill approved by the state Senate to ban inebriated or drugged droning, as well as to outlaw flying unmanned aircraft systems over prisons and in pursuit of wildlife. The vote was set for Thursday but postponed until Monday because of a severe snowstorm that triggered a state of emergency in New Jersey.

Its basically like flying a blender, said John Sullivan, 41, of New York, a drone buff and aerial cinematographer. He said he opposed drunk droning but also fretted about regulatory overreach. If I had like one drink, Id be hesitant to even fly it.

A 2015 drone crash on the White House lawn fueled debate in the U.S. Congress over the need for drone regulations.

It was a drunken, off-duty employee of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency who flew the 2-foot-by-2-foot (60 cm by 60 cm) quadcopter from a friends apartment balcony and lost control of it over the grounds surrounding the White House, the New York Times reported.

New statistics set for release next week show 3.1 million drones were sold in the United States last year, up 28 percent from 2016, said Richard Kowalski, manager for the Consumer Technology Association.

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