A GUIDE FOR CALIFORNIA AVIATION LAW ENFORCEMENT
Prepared for California
Law Enforcement Personnel
by the State of California,
Department of Transportation,
Division of Aeronautics
CONTENTS: Page #
Related Enforcement Actions 2
Relevant Excerpts from State Statutes Fish and Game Code (FGC)
Shooting Game from Aircraft 3
Herding by Aircraft 3
Driving Game Birds by Airplane 3
Aircraft for Commercial Fishing Limited 3
Flight Below 3000’ Prohibited Over Certain Areas 3
Landing Aircraft in Wilderness Areas Restricted 4
Access via Aircraft to Wilderness Areas for Hunting/Fishing Prohibited 4
Food and Agriculture Code (FAC)
Pilot’s Certificate to Operate Aircraft for Pest Control Purposes 4
Registration of Pest Control Pilots 4
Aircraft Garbage Disposal 4
Government Code (GC)
Search & Rescue Reimbursement 5
Airport Approaches Zoning Law/Airport Hazard a Public Nuisance 5
Liability for Emergency Response 6
Health & Safety Code (HSC)
Disposal of Cremated Remains at Sea by Aircraft 6
Smoking Prohibited on Aircraft 6
“No Smoking” Notice Requirements 6
Penal Code (PC)
False Reporting of a Bomb or Other Explosive 6
Discharge of Firearm at Occupied Aircraft 7
Discharge of Firearm at Unoccupied Aircraft 7
Discharge of Laser at Aircraft 8
Interference with Aircraft by Shining a Light 8
Disabled Person Access to Public Transportation with Guide Dog 8
Airplane Crash: Sightseeing at Scene 8
Burglary of Aircraft Defined 9
Unlawful to Possess Tools for Illegal Access to Aircraft 9
Aircraft Theft a Felony 9
Trespass on an Airport 10
Illegal to Sell Services on an Airport without Owner’s Consent 10
Willful or Malicious Damage to Aircraft 10
Jurisdiction of Offenses Committed on Aircraft 11
Authority to Arrest Without a Warrant for Carrying a Concealed Firearm 11
Robbery or Hijacking of Public Conveyance: Reward for Information 11
Placing or Carrying Explosive Devises on Aircraft 11
Possession of Destructive or Explosive Devices on Aircraft 12
Public Resources Code (PRC)
Airport Facilities in State Parks 12 Wilderness Areas: Flight Below 2000’ and Landing Within Prohibited 12
Public Utilities Code (PUC)
Smoking Prohibited on Air Carriers 12 Excerpts from State Aeronautics Act:
Pertinent Definitions as used within State Aeronautics Act 13
Violations; Punishment 14
Recognition of Federal Authority; Intrastate Rates 14
Cooperation with Federal Agencies 15
Enforcement of Aeronautics Act 15
Enforcement of Part; Injunction and Other Legal Process 15
Reports of Violations to Federal and Other State Agencies 15
Ownership; Prohibited Use of Airspace 16
Lawful Flight; Flight Within Airport Approach Zone 16
Tort Liability; Injury or Death of Passengers 16
Limitation on Liability 17
Tort Liability; Collision Damage 17
Careless or Reckless Operation 17
Operation While Under the Influence 17
Consent to Chemical Testing 17
Punishment for Violation of 21407.1 19
Authority to Prohibit Violator from Operating Aircraft 19
Unlicensed Operation 20
Possession and Inspection of Certificate, License, Etc. 20
Unlicensed Aircraft 20
Posting Aircraft License; Inspection 20
Process; Service on Nonresident or Agent 20
Intoxicated Persons In or About Aircraft 21
Locking Door Separating Pilot Compartment from Passenger Compartment 21
Flying or Releasing Balloon, Kite or Rocket Near Airport as Misdemeanor 22
Construction of Utility Pole or Line in Vicinity of Aircraft Landing Area 22
Hazards Near Airports Prohibited 22
Emergency Service Helicopters 22
Emergency Flights for Medical Purposes 23
Helicopters in Proximity to Certain Schools Prohibited 24
Operation of an Airport Without Permit 24 Notification of Damage to Aircraft 24 Penalty for Failure to Comply with Section 24450 24
The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Division of Aeronautics, provides this updated version of its 1977 “California Laws Relating to Aeronautics –
Special Enforcement Edition” pamphlet for your ready reference and use. Aircraft
operations and aviation activities at airports must be conducted in a safe and legal manner.
When conducted in a safe and legal manner, aircraft operations and aviation activity at airports contribute to the health and welfare of all California citizens. Airports of any size or category are contributors to any local economy from tourism access to business location; from transportation of goods, services, and people to providing jobs for local airport employees. Aircraft operations provide for emergency disaster and medical response to maintaining the important agriculture segment of the California economy through aerial application activity. Of course, personal transportation, whether for business or pleasure, contributes to the State’s economic viability and growth.
Your active participation in ensuring the safe and legal use of aircraft and airports is important. This pamphlet will aid you in that effort. If you have any questions arising from the use of this pamphlet or enforcement of State laws, please contact the Division of Aeronautics by phone at (916) 654-5470 or (916) 654-4959; by e-mail at www.dot.ca.gov/hq/planning/aeronaut;or at the following mailing address:
Department of Transportation
Division of Aeronautics, MS #40
P. O. Box 942874
Sacramento, CA 94274-0001
Additional copies of this pamphlet can be downloaded at the Division of Aeronautics website listed above.
Original signed by
R. AUSTIN WISWELL, Chief
Division of Aeronautics
Some confusion exists on the question of jurisdiction in aviation enforcement matters. This guide provides the officer in the field with the single source of information needed. The Public Utilities Code, Section 21252, charges every peace officer with the responsibility of enforcing the rules and orders issued under the Aeronautics Act and all other laws of this State relating to aeronautics.
As a general rule, follow local enforcement procedures. If a situation is covered in one of the laws contained in this guide, you have jurisdiction.
This guide covers areas such as aircraft emergencies; criminal activities in or connected with aircraft; crimes against an aircraft; narcotics investigation; when probable cause is needed to conduct a search of an aircraft; alcohol or drug use by pilots; as well as numerous other activities from disposing of cremated remains to reimbursement for search and rescue efforts.
RELATED ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS
Local enforcement of a State law (such as PUC 21407 “Careless or Reckless Operation”) and FAA enforcement for the same offense (under FAR 91.13 “Careless or Reckless Operation”) can parallel and complement one another. To coordinate an enforcement action, we recommend contacting the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) for the area where the offense occurred. To see what geographic area each FSDO covers, check their website at http://www.awp.faa.gov/new/flightstandards/default.htm. Following are phone numbers for each
FSDO that serves California if you already know which office covers your area:
Las Vegas 702-269-1445
Long Beach 562-420-1755
Los Angeles 310-215-2150
San Diego 619-557-5281
San Jose 408-291-7681
Van Nuys 818-904-6291
Relevant Excerpts from State Statutes (by section number)
Fish and Game Code (FGC)
Shooting Game from Aircraft - FGC
3002. It is unlawful to shoot at any game bird or mammal, including a marine mammal as defined in Section 4500, from a powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicle, or airplane.
Herding by Aircraft - FGC
3003.5. It is unlawful to pursue, drive, or herd any bird or mammal with any motorized water, land, or air vehicle, including, but not limited to, a motor vehicle, airplane, powerboat, or snowmobile, except in any of the following circumstances:
(a) On private property by the landowner or tenant thereof to drive or herd game mammals for the purpose of preventing damage by such mammals to private property.
(b) Pursuant to a permit from the department issued under such regulations as the commission may prescribe.
(c) In the pursuit of agriculture.
Driving Game Birds by Airplane - FGC
3501. It is unlawful to use any powerboat, motor vehicle, or airplane to drive any game bird toward another person with the intent that the other person shall take the bird.
Aircraft for Commercial Fishing Limited - FGC
7850. (a) Excepting persons expressly exempted under this code, no person shall use or operate, or assist in using or operating, any boat, aircraft, net, trap, line, or other appliance to take fish or amphibia for commercial purposes, and no person shall cause to be brought ashore, any fish or amphibia at any point in the state for the purpose of selling them in a fresh state or shall contribute materially to the activities on board the commercial fishing vessel, unless the person holds a commercial fishing license issued by the department.
(b) Any person not required under subdivision (a) to hold a commercial fishing license shall register his or her presence on board the commercial fishing vessel in a log maintained by the owner or operator of the vessel according to the requirements of the department.
(c) As used in this section, "person" does not include persons who are less than 16 years of age, a partnership, corporation, or association. Any person, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, or association may pay the fees for a license issued to any person.
(d) This article does not apply to the taking, transporting, or selling of live freshwater fish for bait by the holder of a live freshwater bait fish license issued pursuant to Section 8460.
Flight Below 3000’ Prohibited Over Certain Areas- FGC
10501.5. (a) It is unlawful to fly any aircraft, including any airplane or helicopter, less than 3,000 feet above water or land over the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, and less than 1,000 feet above water or land over the Ano Nuevo State Reserve, the Farallon Islands Game Refuge, the Point Lobos State Reserve, the California Sea Otter Game Refuge, and Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Barbara, and San Nicolas Islands, except for rescue operations, in case of any emergency, or for scientific or filmmaking purposes under a permit issued by the department after a review of potential biological impacts.
(b) This section does not apply to the landing of any aircraft, including any airplane or helicopter, on Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Barbara, San Nicolas, and Farallon Islands for administrative or operational purposes of the National Park Service, the United States Navy, or the United States Coast Guard.
Landing Aircraft in Wilderness Areas Restricted - FGC
10740. It is unlawful for any person other than a legally constituted peace officer or officer or employee of the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, the department, or of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or county fish and game wardens or their duly authorized representatives, to travel by motor boat, automobile, motorcycle, or other type of motorized vehicle, or, except for emergencies and for rescue and aerial search for rescue purposes, to land an airplane, helicopter, or similar equipment, within the boundaries of a primitive, wilderness, or wild area closed to the above modes of travel as established by a duly authorized officer of the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture and recorded in the office of the Regional Headquarters of the Pacific-Southwest Region of the Forest Service of the United States Department of Agriculture and with the department.
Access via Aircraft to Wilderness Areas for Hunting/Fishing Prohibited - FGC
10741. Nothing in this article shall be construed as prohibiting access over any road or trail in any such area to any land to which any person is entitled to possession by such person or any person authorized by him to use such road or trail as a means of access to the land; provided, that none of the motorized vehicles or aircraft mentioned in Section 10740 shall be used by any person as a means of gaining access to the wilderness areas for the purpose of hunting or fishing. Nor shall anyone having a lawful right to enter a wilderness area with a motorized vehicle or aircraft fish or hunt while within the area after having entered the area with a motorized vehicle or aircraft.
Food and Agriculture Code (FAC)
Pilot’s Certificate to Operate Aircraft for Pest Control Purposes - FAC
11901. It is unlawful for any person to operate any aircraft in pest control unless the pilot operating the aircraft holds a valid pest control aircraft pilot's certificate issued by the director and an appropriate and valid commercial pilot's certificate and a current appropriate medical certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Registration of Pest Control Pilots - FAC
11920. It is unlawful for any person to act as a pest control aircraft pilot in any county without first registering with the appropriate county agricultural commissioner.
Aircraft Garbage Disposal (16151-16154) - FAC
16151. It is unlawful for any person to throw, discharge, deposit, remove, or carry garbage, or
cause, suffer, or procure garbage to be thrown, discharged, deposited, removed, or carried,
from any vessel, aircraft, or any other vehicle into any territorial waters, or onto land within
the state, except for any of the following:
(a) Immediate burning in incinerators.
(b) Approved treatment or approved disposal under the supervision and pursuant to the
regulations of the director.
(c) Delivery to a garbage collector that, for the purpose of accepting garbage, is licensed by
the director or by the federal government.
16152. It is unlawful for any person to retain or maintain garbage on any vessel, aircraft, or
other vehicle within the state, except in tightly closed containers or receptacles and under
such treatment as may be prescribed by the director.
16153. It is unlawful for any person to remove food stores from any vessel, aircraft, or other
vehicle except under a permit issued by the director.
16154. It is unlawful for any person to violate, or to aid, abet, authorize, or instigate a violation
of, this division.
Government Code (GC)
Search & Rescue Reimbursement - GC
26614.5. The county or city and county of residence of a person searched for or rescued by the sheriff under the authority of Section 26614 shall pay to the county or city and county conducting such search or rescue, in any case where the expenses thereof exceed one hundred dollars ($100), all of the reasonable expenses in excess of one hundred dollars ($100) of such search or rescue within 30 days after the submission of a claim therefor by the county or city and county conducting the search or rescue and the county or city and county conducting the search or rescue shall bear the remaining expense.
Airport Approaches Zoning Law/Airport Hazard a Public Nuisance - GC
50485.2. It is hereby found that an airport hazard endangers the lives and property of users of the airport and of occupants of land in its vicinity and also, if of the obstruction type, in effect reduces the size of the area available for the landing, taking off and maneuvering of the aircraft, thus tending to destroy or impair the utility of the airport and the public investment therein. Accordingly, it is hereby declared: (a) that the creation or establishment of an airport hazard is a public nuisance and an injury to the community served by the airport in question; and (b) that it is therefore necessary in the interest of the public health, public safety, and general welfare that the creation or establishment of airport hazards be prevented by appropriate exercise of the police power or the authority conferred by Article 2.6 (commencing with Section 21652) of Part 1 of Division 9 of the Public Utilities Code.
It is further declared that both the prevention of the creation or establishment of airport hazards and the elimination, removal, alteration, mitigation, or marking and lighting of existing airport hazards are public purposes for which a city or county may raise and expend public funds and acquire land or property interests therein.
(Section 50485.1 includes relevant definitions as used in this article)
Liability for Emergency Response - GC
53152. Any person who is under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or any drug, or the combined influence of an alcoholic beverage and any drug, whose negligent operation of a civil aircraft caused by that influence proximately causes any incident resulting in an appropriate emergency response, and any person whose intentionally wrongful conduct proximately causes an incident resulting in an appropriate emergency response, is liable for the expense of an emergency response by a public agency to the incident. (also see GC Sections 53153 and 53158)
Health & Safety Code (HSC)
Disposal of Cremated Remains at Sea by Aircraft - HSC
7117. (a) Cremated remains may be taken by boat from any harbor in this state, or by air, and scattered at sea. Cremated remains shall be removed from their container before the remains are scattered at sea.
(b) Any person who scatters at sea, either from a boat or from the air, any human cremated remains shall, file with the local registrar of births and deaths in the county nearest the point where the remains were scattered, a verified statement containing the name of the deceased person, the time and place of death, the place at which the cremated remains were scattered, and any other information that the local registrar of births and deaths may require. The first copy of the endorsed permit shall be filed with the local registrar of births and deaths within 10 days of disposition. The third copy shall be returned to the office of issuance.
(c) For purposes of this section, the phrase "at sea" includes the inland navigable waters of this state, exclusive of lakes and streams, provided that no such scattering may take place within 500 yards of the shoreline. Nothing in this section shall be construed to allow the scattering of cremated human remains from a bridge or pier.
(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, the cremated remains of a deceased person may be scattered at sea as provided in this section and Section 103060.
Smoking Prohibited on Aircraft - HSC
118925. It is unlawful for any person to smoke tobacco or any other plant product in any vehicle of a passenger stage corporation, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) except to the extent permitted by federal law, in any aircraft except to the extent permitted by federal law, on a public transportation system, as defined by Section 99211 of the Public Utilities Code, or in any vehicle of an entity receiving any transit assistance from the state.
“No Smoking” Notice Requirements - HSC
118930. A notice prohibiting smoking, displayed as a symbol and in English, shall be posted in each vehicle or aircraft subject to this article.
Penal Code (PC)
False Reporting of a Bomb or Other Explosive - PC
148.1. (a) Any person who reports to any peace officer listed in Section 830.1 or 830.2, or subdivision (a) of Section 830.33, employee of a fire department or fire service, district attorney,
newspaper, radio station, television station, deputy district attorney, employees of the Department of Justice, employees of an airline, employees of an airport, employees of a railroad or busline, an employee of a telephone company, occupants of a building or a news reporter in the employ of a newspaper or radio or television station, that a bomb or other explosive has been or will be placed or secreted in any public or private place, knowing that the report is false, is guilty of a crime punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year.
(b) Any person who reports to any other peace officer defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 that a bomb or other explosive has been or will be placed or secreted in any public or private place, knowing that the report is false, is guilty of a crime punishable by imprisonment in the state prison or in the county jail not to exceed one year if (1) the false information is given while the peace officer is engaged in the performance of his or her duties as a peace officer and (2) the person providing the false information knows or should have known that the person receiving the information is a peace officer.
(c) Any person who maliciously informs any other person that a bomb or other explosive has been or will be placed or secreted in any public or private place, knowing that the information is false, is guilty of a crime punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year.
(d) Any person who maliciously gives, mails, sends, or causes to be sent any false or facsimile bomb to another person, or places, causes to be placed, or maliciously possesses any false or facsimile bomb, with the intent to cause another to fear for his or her personal safety or the safety of others, is guilty of a crime punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, or imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year.
Discharge of Firearm at Occupied Aircraft - PC
246. Any person who shall maliciously and willfully discharge a firearm at an inhabited dwelling house, occupied building, occupied motor vehicle, occupied aircraft, inhabited housecar, as defined in Section 362 of the Vehicle Code, or inhabited camper, as defined in Section 243 of the Vehicle Code, is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, five, or seven years, or by imprisonment in the county jail for a term of not less than six months and not exceeding one year.
As used in this section, "inhabited" means currently being used for dwelling purposes, whether occupied or not.
Discharge of Firearm at Unoccupied Aircraft - PC
247. (a) Any person who willfully and maliciously discharges a firearm at an unoccupied aircraft is guilty of a felony.
(b) Any person who discharges a firearm at an unoccupied motor vehicle or an uninhabited building or dwelling house is guilty of a public offense punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year or in the state prison. This subdivision does not apply to shooting at an abandoned vehicle, unoccupied vehicle, uninhabited building, or dwelling house with the permission of the owner.
As used in this section and Section 246 "aircraft" means any contrivance intended for and capable of transporting persons through the airspace.