Don’t fly a drone during the inauguration unless you want to pay a huge fine

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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., left, gestures to an example of a drone held by a staff member, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on March 20, 2013.
Image: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Drone footage from Friday’s inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump would be pretty cool to see for a lot of folks who won’t be there. But it’s not happening, unless some drone pilot out there is willing to risk a fat fine.

The nation’s capital is legally closed to drones, as the Secret Service has ever-so-gently reminded the public in the days leading up to the inauguration.

Piloting a drone in D.C., during the inauguration or otherwise, could earn you a very specific fine of $1,414. If it’s a company drone, the drone’s corporate owner could be subjected to a slightly less specific-sounding fine of $32,140.

Presidential inaugurations take place on the National Mall, a national park, which means drone operators could be subject to an additional fine. Flying a drone in a national park in D.C. will cost you $85, which we’re assuming would be tacked onto the possible $1,414 federal violation.

The airspace around the nation’s capital has been on lockdown since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Only aircraft, including drones, with clearance from the TSA and the Federal Aviation Administration are allowed to fly over and around D.C.

If you’re caught with a drone in the sky, the Secret Service has said “violators will have all equipment confiscated as evidence.” That means phones and laptops, too.

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