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Drone Operators To Face Misdemeanor Charge For Violating FAA Rules

LOS ANGELES ( — Drone operators in Los Angeles who break federal rules risk facing criminal charges under a measure approved Wednesday by the Los Angeles City Council.

The council unanimously approved a regulation making it a misdemeanor to violate various rules already set by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Under the new rules, drone operators are prohibited from flying within a five-mile radius of an airport, at night or at a height over 400 feet. Drones also cannot be flown closer than 25 feet from another person, except at take-off and landing.

The ordinance also limits drone use if it interferes with manned aircraft and requires that drones be flown within the operator's line of sight.

Councilman Mitchell Englander told reporters the most important rules involve endangering firefighting aircraft.

"One of these [drones] can take down and have taken down firefighting helicopters," said Englander. "They can't fly if these are in the air."

The FAA already imposes civil penalties, but the city's rules will allow local law enforcement to criminally prosecute rule violators, Deputy City Attorney Janet Karkanen said.

(©2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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