Can I Shoot Down a Drone Flying Over My Property?

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the questions submitted to his staff.

Submit your own questions about County of Maui programs, operations, services or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa at AskTheMayor@mauicounty.gov, 270-7855 or mail them to 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, HI 96793.

Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column.

Dear Mayor,

Q: Am I allowed to shoot down a drone if it’s flying over my property? Some of these things have cameras and I swear there’s one in the neighborhood that likes to fly over our backyards and look into windows. Sorry to be so blunt, but next time it flies, it dies.

A: Obviously you are frustrated; however, I would not recommend shooting any Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)– aka “drones”– out of the sky. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) considers that a federal crime, mostly because you can’t control how it will land.

A crashing UAS might damage someone’s property or worse, injure someone.

To report a low-flying aircraft, including a drone, you should call the FAA toll-free at 1 -LRB-888-RRB- 697-7813.

For those flying UAS, please adhere to the following safety guidelines as listed by the FAA:

  • Fly at or below 400 feet and stay away from surrounding obstacles;
  • Keep your UAS within sight;
  • Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports;
  • Never fly over groups of people;
  • Never fly over stadiums or sports events;
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires;
  • Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and
  • Understand airspace restrictions and requirements.

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