Japan outlaws flying drones while drunk

image source, PA
image captionDrone use is growing in Japan as in many other nations

Operating a drone in Japan while drunk could lead to a year in prison thanks to new legislation.

The law, passed by the country's parliament this week, seeks to rein in growing use of the unmanned aerial vehicles.

Those found to be intoxicated while flying a drone could also face a fine of up to 300,000 yen (£2,200).

The law covers drones weighing more than 200g (7oz) and also puts limits on where drones can be flown.

"We believe operating drones after consuming alcohol is as serious as (drink) driving," a Japanese transport ministry official told the AFP news agency.

As well as fines over drunken use, the legislation also levies fines on pilots who perform dangerous stunts with their drone. Those caught quickly plunging the craft towards crowds could face fines of up to 500,000 yen.

Operators also face restrictions on where they can fly their craft under the new legislation.

Drones are now banned from being flown within 300m (985ft) of Japan's armed forces, US military personnel and "defence-related facilities" without prior permission.

This follows an earlier ban on them approaching nuclear power plants, Japan's parliament buildings and the prime minister's office. The stadiums and other sites for the 2020 Olympics are also off-limits to drone pilots.

Anyone operating a drone in Japan does not need a licence but must abide by a series of regulations including:

  • staying below 150m
  • avoiding airports
  • avoiding crowded areas
  • only flying during daylight
  • keeping the drone in sight at all times

Anyone failing to abide by the established regulations could face a fine of up to 500,000 yen.

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