Hundreds of thousands of drone operators could now face hefty fines, or even jail, for failing to register their aircraft with the government.
As of Saturday, owners flying an unregistered UAS could now face a civil penalty of $27,500, a criminal fine of $250,000 and/or three years in prison.
Users have registered nearly 370,000 drones with the Federal Aviation Administration since its registration system opened in December. Still, hundreds of thousands of UAS owners may remain unregistered and subject to penalties despite the FAA's efforts to educate owners about the process.
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The agency requires consumers to register drones that weigh 0.55 to 55 pounds. The rules aim to keep track of the booming technology and prevent potentially dangerous flights around planes, airports and public events.
"Simply put, registration is all about safety," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "It provides us with a key opportunity to educate the new generation of airspace users that as soon as they start flying outside, they're pilots."