BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1680


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          Date of Hearing:  March 15, 2016
          Counsel:               David Billingsley


                         ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY


                       Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr., Chair





          AB  
                   1680 (Rodriguez) - As Introduced  January 19, 2016




          SUMMARY:  Makes it a misdemeanor to use a drone to impede  
          specified emergency personnel in the performance of their duties  
          while coping with an emergency.  Specifically, this bill:
          
          1)Amends existing statute which makes it a misdemeanor for a  
            person to go to, or stop at, the scene of an emergency and  
            impedes police officers, firefighters, emergency medical, or  
            other emergency personnel, or military personnel in the  
            performance of their emergency duties.
          
          2)Specifies that a person shall include a person who operates or  
            uses an unmanned aerial vehicle, remote piloted aircraft, or  
            drone.
          
          EXISTING LAW:


          1)States that every person who goes to the scene of an  
            emergency, or stops at the scene of an emergency, for the  
            purpose of viewing the scene or the activities of police  
            officers, firefighters, emergency medical, or other emergency  
            personnel, or military personnel coping with the emergency in  
            the course of their duties during the time it is necessary for  








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            emergency vehicles or those personnel to be at the scene of  
            the emergency or to be moving to or from the scene of the  
            emergency for the purpose of protecting lives or property,  
            unless it is part of the duties of that person's employment to  
            view that scene or activities, and thereby impedes police  
            officers, firefighters, emergency medical, or other emergency  
            personnel or military personnel, in the performance of their  
            duties in coping with the emergency, is guilty of a  
            misdemeanor. (Pen. Code,  402, subd. (a).)

          2)Provides that every person who knowingly resists or interferes  
            with the lawful efforts of a lifeguard in the discharge or  
            attempted discharge of an official duty in an emergency  
            situation, when the person knows or reasonably should know  
            that the lifeguard is engaged in the performance of his or her  
            official duty, is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Pen. Code,  402,  
            subd. (b).)

          3)Specifies that "emergency" includes a condition or situation  
            involving injury to persons, damage to property, or peril to  
            the safety of persons or property, which results from a fire,  
            an explosion, an airplane crash, flooding, windstorm damage, a  
            railroad accident, a traffic accident, a power plant accident,  
            a toxic chemical or biological spill, or any other natural or  
            human-caused event. (Pen. Code,  402, subd. (c).)

          4)States that every person who willfully resists, delays, or  
            obstructs any public officer, peace officer, or an emergency  
            medical technician, as specified, in the discharge or attempt  
            to discharge any duty of his or her office or employment, is  
            guilty of a misdemeanor. (Pen. Code,  148, subd. (a).)

          5)Specifies that the fact that a person takes a photograph or  
            makes an audio or video recording of a public officer or peace  
            officer, while the officer is in a public place or the person  
            taking the photograph or making the recording is in a place he  
            or she has the right to be, does not constitute, in and of  
            itself, a violation of resisting, delaying or obstructing an  
            officer, nor does it constitute reasonable suspicion to detain  
            the person or probable cause to arrest the person. (Pen. Code,  
             148, subd. (g).)









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          6)States that every person who willfully commits any of the  
            following acts at the burning of a building or at any other  
            time and place where any fireman or firemen or emergency  
            rescue personnel are discharging or attempting to discharge an  
            official duty, is guilty of a misdemeanor:

             a)   Resists or interferes with the lawful efforts of any  
               fireman or firemen or emergency rescue personnel in the  
               discharge or attempt to discharge an official duty; (Pen.  
               Code,  148.2, subd. (a).)

             b)   Disobeys the lawful orders of any fireman or public  
               officer; (Pen. Code,  148.2, subd. (b).)

             c)   Engages in any disorderly conduct which delays or  
               prevents a fire from being timely extinguished; or (Pen.  
               Code,  148.2, subd. (c).)

             d)   Forbids or prevents others from assisting in  
               extinguishing a fire or exhorts another person, as to whom  
               he has no legal right or obligation to protect or control,  
               from assisting in extinguishing a fire. (Pen. Code,   
               148.2, subd. (d).)

          7)Specifies that as used in specified code sections, "fireman"  
            or "firefighter" includes "any person who is an officer,  
            employee or member of a fire department or fire protection or  
            firefighting agency of the federal government, the State of  
            California, a city, county, city and county, district, or  
            other public or municipal corporation or political subdivision  
            of this state, whether this person is a volunteer or partly  
            paid or fully paid."

          8)Specifies that, "emergency rescue personnel" means "any person  
            who is an officer, employee or member of a fire department or  
            fire protection or firefighting agency of the federal  
            government, the State of California, a city, county, city and  
            county, district, or other public or municipal corporation or  
            political subdivision of this state, whether this person is a  
            volunteer or partly paid or fully paid, while he or she is  
            actually engaged in the on-the-site rescue of persons or  
            property during an emergency" as specified.








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          9)"Emergency Medical Technician-I" or "EMT-I" means an  
            individual trained in all facets of basic life support  
            according to standards prescribed by this part and who has a  
            valid certificate issued pursuant to this part."  This  
            definition shall include, but not be limited to, EMT-I (FS)  
            and EMT-I-A. (Health & Saf.,  1797.80.)

          10)"Emergency Medical Technician-II", "EMT-II," "Advanced  
            Emergency Medical Technician," or "Advanced EMT" means "an  
            EMT-I with additional training in limited advanced life  
            support according to standards prescribed by this part and who  
            has a valid certificate issued pursuant to this part."   
            (Health & Saf.,  1797.82.)

          11)"Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic," "EMT-P,"  
            "paramedic" or "mobile intensive care paramedic" means "an  
            individual whose scope of practice to provide advanced life  
            support is according to standards prescribed by this division  
            and who has a valid certificate issued pursuant to this  
            division." (Health & Saf.,  1797.82.) 

          12)Any person who hinders, delays, or obstructs any portion of  
            the militia parading or performing any military duty, or who  
            attempts so to do, is guilty of a misdemeanor. (Military &  
            Vet. Code,  396.)

          13)Specifies that the militia of the State shall consist of the  
            National Guard, State Military Reserve and the Naval Militia.  
            (Military & Vet. Code,  120.)

          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown

          COMMENTS:  

          1)Author's Statement:  According to the author, "Recently in  
            California a pilot flying a helicopter with seven firefighters  
            on board who were battling a blaze threatening nearby homes,  
            saw a four-rotor drone only 10 feet from his windshield.  This  
            forced him to make a hard left to avoid a collision about 500  
            feet above ground.  In another incident, the sighting of five  
            drones in the area of a wildfire that closed Interstate 15 in  








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            Southern California and destroyed numerous vehicles, grounded  
            air tanker crews for 20 minutes as flames spread.
            The unregulated and irresponsible use of drones is placing  
            Californians, our firefighters and emergency response  
            personnel in increasing danger.  

            "The existing Penal Code section dealing with interfering with  
            police, fire and EMTs does not specifically state that the  
            crime can be committed by using a drone.  By clarifying  
            existing law, police, fire and EMTs will be able to tell drone  
            operators that the use of an unmanned aircraft that interferes  
            with their official activities is a crime and that they must  
            discontinue their use or face being charged.

            "Unmanned aircraft or the use of a drone is an emerging  
            industry and technology that is rapidly gaining in popularity.  
             The sheer numbers of drones is creating problems and concerns  
            about how and where they should be used and it is only now  
            that they are being regulated by the FAA.  AB 1680 recognizes  
            the fact that drones will need additional federal and state  
            regulation but takes a common sense intermediate approach to  
            doing so."

          2)Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or Drones:  The Federal Aviation  
            Administration (FAA), uses the term "unmanned aircraft  
            systems" to refer to vehicles commonly known as drones.  
            Regarding the types of aircraft that may be considered  
            unmanned aircraft systems, the FAA's fact sheet notes:

          Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) come in a variety of shapes and  
            sizes and serve diverse purposes.  They may have a wingspan as  
            large as a jet airliner or smaller than a radio-controlled  
            model airplane.  Regardless of size, the responsibility to fly  
            safely applies equally to manned and unmanned aircraft  
            operations.

          Because they are inherently different from manned aircraft,  
            introducing UAS into the nation's airspace is challenging for  
            both the FAA and aviation community.  UAS must be integrated  
            into a National Airspace System (NAS) that is evolving from  
            ground-based navigation aids to a GPS-based system in NextGen.  
             Safe integration of UAS involves gaining a better  








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            understanding of operational issues, such as training  
            requirements, operational specifications and technology  
            considerations.  
            (  https://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=182 
            97  )

          Although not always thought of when the word "drone" is used,  
            hobby-size airplanes and helicopters that are equipped with  
            digital cameras are becoming more and more affordable for the  
            average consumer.  This hobby aircraft may be used for pure  
            novelty, surveying one's yard, or even checking to see the  
            condition of a roof. 

          3)FAA Policy on Drones:   If a drone meets the definition of  
            "model aircraft," and operates within specified parameters,  
            the operator does not need specific authorization from the FAA  
            to fly it.  Under FAA regulations a 'Model aircraft'' is (1)  
            capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; (2) flown  
            within visual line of sight of the person operating the  
            aircraft; and (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.  
            (Section 336 of Public Law 112-95 (the FAA Modernization and  
            Reform Act of 2012).)  

          The FAA has the authority under its existing regulations to  
            pursue legal enforcement action against persons operating  
            model aircraft when the operations endanger the safety of the  
            National Airspace System, even if they are operating in  
            accordance with UAS regulations. So, for example, a Model  
            aircraft operation conducted, as specified, may be subject to  
            an enforcement action for a violation if the operation is  
            conducted in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger  
            the life or property of another.  
            (  https://www.faa.gov/uas/regulations_policies/media/FAA_UAS-PO_ 
            LEA_Guidance.pdf  )

          Drone operations that are not model aircraft operations may only  
            be operated with specific authorization from the FAA.  It is  
            important to understand that all UAS operations that are not  
            operated as model aircraft are subject to current and future  
            FAA regulation.  At a minimum, any such flights are currently  
            required under the FAA's regulations to be operated with an  
            authorized aircraft (certificated or exempted), with a valid  








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            registration number ("N-number"), with a certificated pilot,  
            and with specific FAA authorization (Certificate of Waiver or  
            Authorization). Regardless of the type of UAS operation, the  
            FAA's statutes and the Federal Aviation Regulations prohibit  
            any conduct that endangers individuals and property on the  
            surface, other aircraft, or otherwise endangers the safe  
            operation of other aircraft in the National Airspace System.  
            (  https://www.faa.gov/uas/regulations_policies/media/FAA_UAS-PO_ 
            LEA_Guidance.pdf  )

          4)Governor's Veto Message on SB 271 (Gaines) and SB 170 (Gaines)  
            Drone Bills:  SB 168 (Gaines), of the 2015-2016 Legislative  
            Session was vetoed by the Governor, and would have made it a  
            misdemeanor operate a UAS, in a manner that prevents or delays  
            the extinguishment of a fire, or in any way interferes with  
            the efforts of firefighters to control, contain, or extinguish  
            a fire.

          SB 271 (Gaines), Legislative Session of 2015-2016 was vetoed by  
            Governor, and would have made it an infraction to knowingly  
            and intentionally operate an unmanned aircraft system on the  
            grounds of, or less than 350 feet above ground level within  
            the airspace overlaying, a public school providing instruction  
            in kindergarten or grades 1 to 12, inclusive, during school  
            hours and without the written permission of the school  
            principal or higher authority, or his or her designee, or  
            equivalent school authority.

          SB 170 (Gaines), Legislative Session of 2015-2016 was vetoed by  
            the Governor, and would have created a felony crime for the  
            use of a UAS to deliver contraband into a prison or county  
            jail and creates a misdemeanor crime for the use of UAS over a  
            prison or capture images of a prison.  SB 170 passed the  
            Senate on a 40-0 vote and will be heard in the Assembly  
            Privacy and Consumer Protection Committee on July 7, 2015.  

          The Governor vetoed those bills and issued this statement  
            applying to all three bills:

               "Each of these bills creates a new crime - usually by  
               finding a novel way to characterize and criminalize conduct  
               that is already proscribed. This multiplication and  








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               particularization of criminal behavior creates increasing  
               complexity without commensurate benefit. 

               "Over the last several decades, California's criminal code  
               has grown to more than 5,000 separate provisions, covering  
               almost every conceivable form of human misbehavior. During  
               the same period, our jail and prison populations have  
               exploded. 

               "Before we keep going down this road, I think we should  
               pause and reflect on how our system of criminal justice  
               could be made more human, more just and more  
               cost-effective." 

          5)Existing Law Already Criminalizes Obstructing or Delaying  
            Firemen, Emergency Rescue Personnel, Emergency Medical  
            Technicians, Police Officers, Peace Officers, Public Officers,  
            and National Guard Members Discharging Their Duties:  The  
            Penal Code specifies that it is a misdemeanor to obstruct,  
            delay, or resist specified positions who are engaged in the  
            discharged of their duties.  The list includes firemen,  
            emergency rescue personnel, emergency medical technicians,  
            police officers, peace officers, and public officers in  
            positions for which it is a crime to interfere with discharge  
            of their duties.  In addition, a Military & Vet. Code section  
            makes it a misdemeanor for a person to delay or obstructs  
            National Guard or California State Military Reserve from  
            performing any military duty.

          The language prohibiting "obstructing or delaying" prohibit such  
            behavior regardless of the particular manifestation.  Because  
            of the general prohibition on obstructing or delaying, there  
            is not a need to list specific ways (such as use of a drone)  
            that a person can "obstruct, delay, or resist."

          The Author mentions two situations in which a drone affected  
            firefighting efforts.  One involved firefighters in a  
            helicopter and another incident resulted in the grounding of  
            air tankers fighting a wildfire.  Both of those incidents  
            could have been charged under Penal Code section 148.2, which  
            prohibits obstructing, delaying, or resisting a fireman, to  
            the extent that the conduct of the drone operator obstructed  








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            or delayed the firemen in the performance of their duties.  

          6)Penal Code Section 402 Does Not Necessarily Criminalize Use of  
            a Drone to Impede Personnel Coping with an Emergency:  Penal  
            Code section 402 prohibits conduct that impedes specified  
            personnel responding to an emergency.  Arguably a person could  
            not be prosecuted under Penal Code section 402 when using a  
            drone from a remote location, because the section only  
            prohibits conduct that impedes specified individuals  
            performing their duties in coping with an emergency when the  
            "person goes to the scene of an emergency, or stops at the  
            scene of an emergency, . . ."

          Given the requirement that the person goes to the scene of the  
            emergency, or stops at the scene of the emergency, a person  
            impeding an emergency response by operating a drone when the  
            drone operator was at a remote location, does not fit within  
            the scope of Penal Code section 402.  

          To the extent that a District Attorney's Office felt that  
            criminal charges were warranted, the delay or obstruction of  
            personnel at the scene of an emergency with a drone could  
            currently be prosecuted under the codes mentioned above which  
            criminalize delaying or obstructing specified personnel  
            whether or not they are at the scene of an emergency.  

          If it is important to ensure that Penal Code section 402  
            addresses the use of drones, it is appropriate to add language  
            to that section.  The language of this bill would need to be  
            narrowed or modified to ensure that it addresses the use of a  
            drone at an accident scene from a remote location.  The  
            language of this bill does not modify the requirement that the  
            person must go to, or stop at the scene of the emergency, to  
            violate the statute.  The current language referring to drones  
            does not necessarily reach individuals that impede an  
            emergency from a location that is remote from the emergency  
            scene.  

          7)Argument in Support:  According to Los Angeles Professional  
            Peace Officers Association, "Existing law provides that it is  
            a misdemeanor to impede the duties of law enforcement  
            officers, firefighters or emergency personnel; but current law  








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            is silent regarding the interference of law enforcement  
            activity with a "drone" or "unmanned aerial vehicle."  Over  
            the past few years, the popularity of drones has resulted in  
            an increase of these devices in the sky; often times at  
            accident sites, forest fires, crowded public events and other  
            locations that have proven problematic for law enforcement and  
            emergency response.  There have been examples where public  
            safety crews have had to avoid drones in mid-air responses and  
            divert action plans to alternative sites to prevent  
            endangering public safety officers and the public.

          "AB 1680 would address this currently unregulated activity and  
            would clarify that these problematic incidents will be  
            classified as misdemeanors; mirroring existing penalties for  
            interfering with law enforcement in any other manner.  This  
            appropriate action will likely result in a reduction of these  
            dangerous, unnecessary encounters between drones and law  
            enforcement officers responding to a crisis."

          8)Prior Legislation:  

             a)   SB 168 (Gaines), of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session,   
               would have made it a misdemeanor operate a UAS, in a manner  
               that prevents or delays the extinguishment of a fire, or in  
               any way interferes with the efforts of firefighters to  
               control, contain, or extinguish a fire.  SB 168 was vetoed  
               by the Governor.

             b)   SB 271 (Gaines), of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session,  
               would have made it an infraction to knowingly and  
               intentionally operate an UAS on the grounds of, or less  
               than 350 feet above ground level within the airspace  
               overlaying, a public school providing instruction in  
               kindergarten or grades 1 to 12, inclusive, during school  
               hours and without the written permission of the school  
               principal or higher authority, or his or her designee, or  
               equivalent school authority.  SB 271 was vetoed by  
               Governor.

             c)   SB 170 (Gaines), of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session,  
               would have created a felony crime for the use of a UAS to  
               deliver contraband into a prison or county jail and creates  








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               a misdemeanor crime for the use of UAS over a prison or  
               capture images of a prison.  SB 170 passed the Senate on a  
               40-0 vote and will be heard in the Assembly Privacy and  
               Consumer Protection Committee on July 7, 2015.  SB 170 was  
               vetoed by the Governor.

             d)   SB 411 (Lara), Chapter 177, Statutes of 2015, specifies  
               the fact that a person takes a photograph or makes an audio  
               or video recording of law enforcement officer, while the  
               officer is in a public place or the person taking the  
               photograph or making the recording is in a place he or she  
                                         has the right to be, is not, in and of itself, a violation  
               of willfully resisting, delaying, or obstructing an  
               officer.

          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:

          Support

          California Fire Chiefs Association
          California State Sheriffs' Association
          DJI Technology
          Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs
          Los Angeles Police Protective League
          Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association
          Riverside Sheriffs Association

          Opposition
          
          None
            
          Analysis Prepared  
          by:              David Billingsley / PUB. S. / (916) 319-3744

















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