Drones are a popular Christmas gift, and local authorities want area residents to know how to safely and legally use the unmanned aircraft systems. 

Here are three things you need to know if you have a new drone, the usage of which is governed both by state and federal laws. 

You have to register. 
Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that drone owners would have to start registering the unmanned aircrafts.

“Make no mistake: Unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a prepared statement last year at the time of the announcement. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.”

Authorities with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office reiterated this point.

Any aircraft weighing between 0.55 pounds and up to 55 pounds must be registered, according to the sheriff’s office.  

Drone operators who operate unregistered drones can be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

To register a drone, click here

Know where you can fly legally. 
“The FAA has determined that certain airspaces are prohibited for drone operations, especially those in close proximity to airports, helipads and military/government agencies,” according to a news release from the sheriff’s office. 

Other airspace restrictions apply to the operation of drones around stadiums, sporting events, NASCAR races, wildfires and areas with temporary flight restrictions. 

Drones should never be flown over private property, businesses, schools or crowds of people, authorities also said. Even lightweight drones can cause injury if they fall from a considerable height. 

There’s an app called B4UFLY that consumers can use to find out if the airspace is approved for drones. Click here and here for more information.

Read the directions. 
Sheriff’s office authorities also urged consumers to make sure they read and understand all the instructions about the drone. 

“Never fly your drone without conducting a basic preflight check, and always make sure your drone’s battery system is fully charged,” according to a news release.