Drones for Christmas could mean fines if not registered

One of the hottest tech gifts of the holiday season could come with hefty fines if consumers don't follow new rules set by the FAA.

Anyone getting a drone for Christmas must register the product and pay a $5 fee. The registration will last for three years.

There will be an estimated 700,000 new drone owners by the end of December, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

"I just think it's one of the neatest things I've seen in a while out on the market," said Dan Larson, as he shopped for a drone at the Best Buy off North Dale Mabry in Tampa on Thursday. "I've got a son that's in the music industry, and we can get videos of him when he's performing outside at festivals and other events like that."

While owning a personal aircraft is exciting for many people, it comes with several responsibilities. Under the new FAA regulations, drones weighing between a half pound and 55 pounds must be registered online. Drones weighing more than 55 pounds must be registered through normal FAA requirements for an aircraft.

Owners must agree to follow all of the following FAA drone regulations:

  • Fly below 400 feet
  • Fly within  visual line of sight
  • Follow FAA airspace regulations: https://www.faa.gov/uas/tfr/
  • Never fly over groups of people
  • Never fly over stadiums or sporting events
  • Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports
  • Never fly near emergency response efforts, such as fires
  • Never fly under the influence

Applicants will be required to provide a name, address, email address and a registration number for the drone. Operators must carry their FAA registration while operating their aircraft.

A failure to register a drone or a failure to follow the rules could carry a civil penalty of up to $27,500, and criminal charges could include $250,000 and three years in prison.

Drones can be registered through the FAA website: http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/