Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 5.1. Aviation
Chapter 1. Aircraft, Airmen and Airports Generally
4/20/2024

Article 2. Illegal Operation, Etc.; Procedure; Penalties.

§ 5.1-13. Operation of aircraft while under influence of intoxicating liquors or drugs; reckless operation.

Any person who shall operate any aircraft within the airspace over, above or upon the lands or waters of this Commonwealth, while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of any narcotic or any habit-forming drugs shall be guilty of a felony and shall be confined in a state correctional facility not less than one nor more than five years, or, in the discretion of the court or jury trying the case, be confined in jail not exceeding twelve months and fined not exceeding $500, or both such fine and imprisonment.

Any person who shall operate any aircraft within the airspace over, above or upon the lands or waters of this Commonwealth carelessly or heedlessly in willful or wanton disregard of the rights or safety of others, or without due caution and circumspection and in a manner so as to endanger any person or property, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 5-10.1; 1964, c. 416; 1966, c. 576.

§ 5.1-14. Operation of unregistered aircraft.

Any person who operates or causes to be operated any civil aircraft within the airspace over, above or upon the lands or waters of this Commonwealth, which aircraft has not been and is not at the time of such operation properly certificated under and in accordance with existing federal law and registered under and in accordance with the existing laws of this Commonwealth and rules and regulations promulgated in pursuance thereof, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 5-10.2; 1966, c. 576; 2017, c. 793.

§ 5.1-15. Operation of aircraft by unlicensed persons.

Any person who operates any civil aircraft within the airspace over, above, or upon the lands or waters of this Commonwealth, without being, at the time of such operation, in possession of a valid airman's certificate for such operation, issued under and in accordance with existing federal law shall be deemed to be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 5-10.3; 1966, c. 576; 1988, c. 45.

§ 5.1-16. Tampering with, etc., airplanes or markings of airports, landing fields or other aeronautical facilities.

It shall be unlawful for any person to tamper with, alter, destroy, remove, carry away, or cause to be carried away, an airplane or other flying device or instrumentality or any objects used for the marking of airports, landing fields, drop zones or other aeronautical facilities, or in any way change their position or location, except by and under the direction of the proper authorities charged with the maintenance and operation of such facilities. Any person violating any of the provisions of this section or who shall illegally have in his possession any objects or devices used for such markings, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 5-10.4; 1966, c. 576.

§ 5.1-16.1. Misuse of licensed airports.

It shall be unlawful for any person or persons to use licensed airport runways, taxiways or ramp areas for other than aeronautical purposes without written approval of the controlling authority of such airport.

1970, c. 717.

§ 5.1-17. Use of aircraft for hunting.

It shall be unlawful for any person to hunt, pursue or kill any wild waterfowl or other birds or animals by any means whatever during such time as such person is in flight in an aircraft in the airspace over the lands or waters of this Commonwealth. A violation of this section shall be deemed a misdemeanor.

Code 1950, § 5-10.5; 1966, c. 576.

§ 5.1-18. Repealed.

Repealed by Acts 1988, c. 45.

§ 5.1-20. Pilot may restrain or arrest person interfering with operation of aircraft carrying passengers for hire.

The pilot of any aircraft carrying passengers for hire, or any person subject to his direction, may take such action as is reasonably necessary to restrain or arrest any person who interferes with, or threatens to interfere with, the operation of the aircraft in flight over the territory of this Commonwealth or to a destination within this Commonwealth.

Code 1950, § 5-14.1; 1958, c. 561, § 1; 1966, c. 576.

§ 5.1-21. Powers of conservator of the peace conferred upon pilot.

The pilot of any aircraft carrying passengers for hire while actively engaged in the operation of such aircraft shall be a special policeman and have all the powers of a conservator of the peace in the enforcement of order on such aircraft and while in pursuit of persons for disorder upon such aircraft and until such persons as may be arrested by him shall have been placed in confinement or delivered to the custody of some other conservator of the peace or police officer.

Code 1950, § 5-14.2; 1958, c. 561, § 2; 1966, c. 576.

§ 5.1-21.1. Powers of conservators of the peace conferred upon airport managers or designees.

The airport manager of any licensed Virginia airport or in his absence not more than two employees who are designated by him shall be special policemen and have all the powers of conservators of the peace in the enforcement of this title and its regulations as promulgated by the Board. Persons arrested by them shall be placed in confinement or delivered to the custody of some other conservator of the peace or police officer.

1970, c. 717; 1979, c. 272; 1991, c. 339.

§ 5.1-22. Interference with operation of aircraft; penalties; venue.

Any person who interferes with or threatens to interfere with the operation of any aircraft, unless he is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration or the armed forces of the United States, on or over the territory of the Commonwealth shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Where the act or acts of interference or threatened interference are of such a nature as to endanger the life of the aircraft's operator or the life of any other person, the person interfering or threatening to interfere shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony. Any person who knowingly and intentionally projects a point of light from a laser, laser gun sight, or any other device that simulates a laser at an aircraft is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. Venue for the issuance of a warrant for the arrest and trial of any such person is hereby conferred upon any court having criminal jurisdiction in the political subdivision in the Commonwealth where the aircraft either took off prior to such offense, or where it lands or comes to rest subsequent to such offense, or in or over which the offense occurred.

Code 1950, § 5-14.3; 1958, c. 561, § 3; 1966, c. 576; 1983, c. 560; 2012, c. 398.

§ 5.1-23. Jurisdiction of local and State Police.

The local police authorities of any city, incorporated town or county shall have jurisdiction on the premises of any airport, drop zone or landing field operated hereunder, either individually or jointly and the State Police shall have jurisdiction to investigate any aircraft accident. In the exercise of such jurisdiction the State Police and officers of the department of law enforcement of any city or county with an optional form of government may enter with immunity and without a warrant upon private property for the purpose of conducting such investigations. This section shall not repeal the provisions of any city charter in conflict herewith.

Code 1950, § 5-37; 1966, c. 576; 1968, c. 737; 1979, c. 394; 1980, c. 721.

§ 5.1-24. Penalties.

Any person violating any of the provisions of this chapter, or violating any of the rules or regulations promulgated pursuant thereto by the Board, except as otherwise specifically provided, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine of not more than $100 or imprisonment in jail not exceeding one month, or both, in the discretion of the judge or jury trying the case; provided, that any person (excepting any government, political subdivision of the Commonwealth, or governmental subdivision or agency) establishing or operating an airport without first obtaining a permit as provided in § 5.1-8 shall, upon conviction, be fined not less than $100 nor more than $500 for each offense, and each day that the airport is operated without such permit shall be construed as a separate offense.

Code 1950, § 5-11; 1966, c. 576; 1979, c. 272.

§ 5.1-25. Operation of aircraft by nonresident.

A nonresident of this Commonwealth may operate aircraft engaged in operations other than for hire or reward in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Board, provided such nonresident and the aircraft to be so operated shall have been certified under federal law and shall have complied with the laws of the state in which such nonresident resides relative to aircraft and the operation thereof. A nonresident-owned aircraft engaged in intrastate operation for hire or reward must be licensed with the Department in accordance with this title and the Board's regulations.

Code 1950, § 5-12; 1966, c. 576; 1970, c. 717; 1979, c. 272; 1988, c. 45.