The California State Senate unanimously approved bipartisan legislation authored by Senator Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado) and co-authored by Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) and others that would protect first responders if they damage a drone during the delivery of emergency services. Incidents in the past have endangered the lives of firefighters and highlighted the need for the state to act.
“The Legislature rightfully recognized that firefighters and other first responders should not be held liable for damaging an unauthorized drone in an emergency,” said Bates, who is a member of the Joint Legislative Committee on Emergency Management. “I commend Senator Gaines’ leadership on drone safety and hope Governor Brown will recognize the necessity of passing this legislation.”
Senate Bill 807 would limit the exposure to civil liability of an emergency responder for damaging a drone if the drone was interfering with the delivery of emergency services, such as a plane dropping water on a wildfire.
SB 807 is similar to SB 168 (Gaines) last year. Governor Jerry Brown vetoed SB 168 despite unanimous support in the Legislature. The governor expressed concern about the creation of new crimes. However, SB 807’s authors believe that with drones growing in popularity, the potential for their abuse and harm to first responders has increased considerably and necessitates an update in state law.
SB 807 will next go to the governor for his consideration. The Assembly unanimously approved the bill last week.