HELENA, Mont. — It may soon be a criminal offense to trespass using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) such as a drone.
Senate Bill 333 passed a second reading on the floor today by a 38-12 vote, with most Republicans in support and most Democrats in opposition.
The law would make it illegal for people to knowingly cause a UAV to fly within 200 feet or lower over a property or residence of another person who has not authorized it to fly.
Among the exceptions are for government entities that have contracts to use UAVs to protect public safety, a utility employee or contractor to assess property damage or catastrophe damage, and a provider of broadband service to assess cell towers and wireless telecommunications.
The sponsor was asked if he had considered a carve out for businesses and media coverage.
“Right now I have not seen a good amendment that protects private property owners rights,” said State Sen. Greg Hertz (R-Polson), the bill’s sponsor. “So with that, I haven’t proceeded with that amendment yet.”
The bill will go through a final Senate vote Thursday before heading to the House.
It would become effective upon passage.