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Laser pointers can be fun, useful gadgets, but pointing them at helicopters can land you in handcuffs.
Laser pointer pranksters may think these helicopter hijinks are funny, but state and federal law enforcement aren't laughing.
Multiple Arrests for Laser-Pointing Helicopters
In recent months, laser pointer pranksters from coast to coast have been arrested for incidents involving laser pointers and helicopters. Here are just a few examples:
Each of these laser-pointer offenders may have particular state or local dimensions to their cases, but they've all allegedly run afoul of federal law.
Pointing Lasers at Helicopters Is a Federal Offense
For those who didn't get the memo in February, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are cracking down on laser pointing when it involves aircraft. While this strict enforcement effort is somewhat new, the federal law against pointing lasers at aircraft has been on the books since 2012.
Federal law prohibits knowingly pointing the beam of a laser at an aircraft or "at the flight path of such an aircraft." ("Aircraft" is defined by federal law as "a civil, military, or public contrivance invented, used, or designated to navigate, fly, or travel in the air" -- which includes helicopters.) Violators can face up to five years in federal prison.
Accidentally flashing a helicopter while using a laser pointer for stargazing isn't prohibited. But if you're worried about your potential criminal liability for laser-pointing, or if you've been charged with such a crime, contact a criminal defense attorney today.