People who fly drones over jails could get sent to one with proposed law

FILE - Drone (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Drone (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (AP/KXAN) — Texas lawmakers are trying to clear the skies over sports stadiums and jails.

Flying a drone above a large sports arena or a detention center would constitute a crime under a bill approved 120-2 on Thursday by the state House. It now only needs a largely symbolic final vote to head to the Texas Senate.

Individuals could face up to six months behind bars for one violation, and one year maximum in jail for multiple violations.

The new regulation is designed to protect the public from weapons that drones could possibly transport, and to prevent drones from delivering inmates contraband or drugs.

But opponents worry that the bill could harm the fast-growing drone industry, arguing that the federal government, not the state, is charged with regulating airspace.

In September 2014, a University of Texas at Austin student was detained after flying a drone over Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium during a football game. The student was not charged, but his drone was seized.

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