If you have a drone and take it to the Key Bridge collapse, expect legal consequences

01 April 2024- Law enforcement will enforce local and federal laws regarding Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, during the ongoing recovery and salvage operations underway on the Patapsco River and areas surrounding the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

FBI Baltimore, in conjunction with the United States Attorney’s Office – District of Maryland, and members of the Unified Command – Maryland State Police (MSP), Maryland Transportation Authority Police, the United States Coast Guard, the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Synergy Marine – are reminding the public that the airspace is a ‘No Drone Zone’ and they are committed to identifying, investigating, disrupting and prosecuting the careless or criminal use of drones in the area.

“Drone operators need to know that we take seriously any incursion in the restricted airspace around the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. Such incursions threaten the safety of those involved in the investigation of the bridge collapse and the recovery of victims. We will investigate and prosecute anyone who violates the ‘no drone zone,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron.

“The FBI’s message is simple: all drones are to stay away from the site of the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. This is to ensure the safety of all first responders and crews in the area as well as to not interfere with their work,” said William J. DelBagno, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office. “You will be charged federally if you fly a drone in a restricted area. It is harmful to the recovery operations, and it is illegal.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implemented a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) on March 26 after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. The TFR extends for three nautical miles in radius, from the center of the bridge, and from the surface up to and including 1500 feet above ground level (AGL).

Law enforcement in the area is actively monitoring for illegal UAS/drone use and has responded to multiple drone incursions over the past few days.

There is a zero-tolerance policy regarding any UAS/drone use anywhere within the “No Drone Zone” established by the FAA. Anyone who attempts to fly a UAS/drone in any prohibited manner may be subject to arrest, prosecution, fines, and/or imprisonment.

Information about all federal UAS/drone regulations can be found on the FAA website. The specific TFR can be found at: Key Bridge TFR.