Virginia was the first state to pass a law regulating surveillance drones; however their law focused on usage of the machines by law enforcement and the government, not civilians and private hobbyists. The Texas law instead bans the use of drones by amateur or professional photographers. A conviction of using a drone is punishable by a $500 fine. If those who were photographed can prove malicious intent, they can receive $10,000 in civil penalties. However, the law provides 40 exemptions for Texas law enforcement, allowing them to employ surveillance drones without a warrant and with only a suspicion of illegal activity.
In 2012, a civilian photographer in Texas using a drone brought to light a meatpacking plant utilizing illegal dumping procedures, when he caught a picture of a creek literally running red with pig’s blood. Under the new law, it the drone pilot rather than the meatpacking plant would be the criminal.