Civil penalty procedures
After notice and an opportunity for a hearing, a person found by the Secretary of Transportation to have violated a provision of law that the Secretary carries out through the Maritime Administrator or the Commandant of the Coast Guard or a regulation prescribed under that law by the Secretary for which a civil penalty is provided, is liable to the United States Government for the civil penalty provided. The amount of the civil penalty shall be assessed by the Secretary by written notice. In determining the amount of the penalty, the Secretary shall consider the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the prohibited acts committed and, with respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, any history of prior offenses, ability to pay, and other matters that justice requires.
The Secretary may compromise, modify, or remit, with or without consideration, a civil penalty until the assessment is referred to the Attorney General.
If a person fails to pay an assessment of a civil penalty after it has become final, the Secretary may refer the matter to the Attorney General for collection in an appropriate district court of the United States.
(d) The Secretary may refund or remit a civil penalty collected under this section if—
application has been made for refund or remission of the penalty within one year from the date of payment; and
the Secretary finds that the penalty was unlawfully, improperly, or excessively imposed.
SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT.
“(a)In General.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into Federal Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this subtitle, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if—
the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational use;
the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization;
the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds unless otherwise certified through a design, construction, inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered by a community-based organization;
the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport)).
Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who endanger the safety of the national airspace system.
“(c)Model Aircraft Defined.—In this section, the term ‘model aircraft’ means an unmanned aircraft that is—
capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;
flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and
flown for hobby or recreational purposes.”
Transfer of Functions
For transfer of authorities, functions, personnel, and assets of the Coast Guard, including the authorities and functions of the Secretary of Transportation relating thereto, to the Department of Homeland Security, and for treatment of related references, see sections 468(b), 551(d), 552(d), and 557 of Title 6, Domestic Security, and the Department of Homeland Security Reorganization Plan of November 25, 2002, as modified, set out as a note under section 542 of Title 6.
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