The new national drone registry is officially open for business, and the FAA now expects you will register your consumer/hobbyist drones voluntarily. If you don’t, there is a “maximum civil penalty is a fine of up to $27,500.” As if that wasn’t enough, “Criminal penalties can reach $250,000 or three years in prison.”
However, Keith Wagstaff raises an interesting question in his recent NBC News article, “Fail to Register Your Drone? You Could Be Hit With $27K Fine.” In his article, the question of enforcement is raised.
“Whether the FAA will be able to enforce this rule is a genuinely open question,” Eli Dourado, director of the Technology Policy Program at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, told NBC News.
“Thousands of children may be getting drones this holiday season without being aware of the new rules,” Dourado said. “The FAA doesn’t have the manpower to investigate and punish every instance of flying an unregistered drone, nor, I suspect, would it have the political will to. It is not going to send little kids to jail for this.”
Regardless of the FAA’s ability to enforce registration, as a responsible drone owner, if your drone weighs more than .55 pounds (including extra equipment such as cameras), then you should be registering your drones. It’s a simple and currently a free process. After January 20, 2016, you can expect a $5 registration fee.
How do you register? If you are a new drone owner, you can register online with the FAA by providing your name, home address and email address before your first flight. If you already owned a drone, you have February 19, 2016 to register. Once registered, the FAA will provide you with an identification number. This number must be printed on all of your drones.
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