In Australian law a drone is referred to as a “remotely piloted aircraft” or RPA for short. The “Civil Aviation Safety Authority” or CASA who are responsible for regulating the use of drones. Australia has strict laws surrounding the use of drones. This is particularly the case near public places and airports. Breaches of the law can result in harsh penalties. This is due to there being a significant risk of injury if a drone collides with people or an aircraft.
How big is your drone?
The most important point to be aware of is the size and legal classification of a drone. Most drones that are available commercially to the public, fall within the micro to very small category as defined in the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998. This means they are weigh less than 25kg. Any drone that is heavier than this falls within a different category and are subject to a very different set of rules.
Rules & penalties for drones
If you own a drone it is very important to be aware of the laws that govern their use, especially in public places. The CASA regulations include the following rules covering the use of drones and the potential penalties:
- Flying beyond your line of sight (Penalty $10,500)
- Flying a drone at night (Penalty $5250)
- Flying a drone within 30m of another person or people (Penalty $2100)
- Flying a drone over populous areas (Penalty $10,500)
- Flying a drone within 5.5km of a controlled aerodrome (Penalty $5250)
- Flying a drone above 120 metres (penalty $10,500)
What if you receive a fine for flying a drone?
A breach of any of these rules may attract an expensive penalty notice or having to appear in court. If you receive a penalty notice it is important to speak to a lawyer about your options. Generally you can either pay the penalty notice, elect to have the matter determined at court, or request a review of the penalty notice. If you receive a court attendance notice it is often accompanied with a written notice of pleading. It is very important to speak to a lawyer before you consider filling in one of these forms.
In March last year a man was fined $1050 for flying a drone over an Ed Sheeran concert in Brisbane. In this case the man breached several regulations including, flying at night, flying within 30 metres of people and flying the drone outside his line of sight.
So before flying your drone it is always a good idea to make sure you are aware of how, where and when you can fly it. CASA have some helpful online tools and mobile apps. These include informative videos for drone owners about where they can and cannot legally fly their drones.
If you or anyone you know has been charged or fined for drone related offences contact our team of expert criminal lawyers.