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Commonwealth's Counties

Update on Drone Bills

VACo supports SB 186 (Black), which authorizes localities to use unmanned systems, without the requirement of a search warrant, for purposes other than law-enforcement. Such activities include damage assessment, traffic assessment, flood stage assessment, and wildfire assessment. Drones may also be used for private, commercial, or recreational use or for the sole purpose of research and development for institutions of higher education and other research organizations or institutions. Current law only allows state departments, agencies, or entities with jurisdiction over criminal law-enforcement or regulatory violations to utilize drones in this way. The bill unanimously reported out of the Senate and the House Courts of Justice Committee.

VACo also supports HB 1482 (Thomas) and SB 508 (Carrico). Both bills extend the use of a drone for the purpose of: 1) surveying and recording the scene of an accident for crash reconstruction by photographic or video images; and 2) allowing the Department of Transportation to provide assistance to law-enforcement officers preparing the accident report. The House rejected the Senate substitute unanimously, and the Senate requested the bill go into conference. The conference committee members are Delegate Bob Thomas, Delegate R.B. Bell, and Delegate Michael Mullin. The Senate version reported out of House Courts of Justice Committee with a substitute, 18-0. The bill will also likely go to conference at the request of the House.

VACo Contact: Khaki LaRiviere

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