Under a new state law signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, using a drone near prisons or other state facilities would result in a misdemeanor or felony charge.

Drones will not be allowed to fly within 500 feet of prisons horizontally and 250 feet vertically.

The law comes in response to people using drones to sneak contraband to inmates.

Using a drone near a prison would result in a misdemeanor, and using a drone to drop weapons or other contraband on prison grounds would result in a felony.

North Carolina Director of Prisons Kenneth Lassiter said contraband is most often cigarettes, but it can also include alcohol and cellphones.

Lassiter said, in recent years, there have been several incidents at correctional facilities in the south and central part of the state.

“We’ve had a few close calls with them trying to get contraband in. Luckily, they crashed,” Lassiter said.

In another case, a drone pilot was sightseeing over Central Prison in Raleigh.

“(The pilot) lost control of the drone and actually crashed on death row’s exercise area. Luckily, there were no inmates on the yard,” he said.

Prison officials are happy about the new state law, which will give them more power to prevent drones near prisons.

“It allows us to take out charges if we can determine who is flying a drone,” Lassiter said.

There are some exceptions to the new law, which takes effect Dec. 1. In cases of emergency, responders are permitted to use drones near prisons and state facilities.