KENTUCKY (11/26/12) – Laser pointers and aircraft, when linked together, can be a very dangerous mixture. Though many local individuals are not aware of it, pointing a laser pointer upwards at an aircraft can have some severe repercussions, to a felony extent.
A laser pointer can, even at long distances, do damage to the eyes. The issue here is the risk involved. There is a solid chance that the beam from a laser pointer can hinder eyesight, even from massive distances, thus becoming a potentially deadly issue for aircraft pilots. As a result of this risk, laws have been passed on a state and national level, including Kentucky, resulting in this being treated as a felony offense. A good example of these repercussions is a case where three Virginia residents were charged with felony offenses.
According to information passed along by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Three West Virginia residents entered into pretrial diversion agreements with the United States Attorney’s Office for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft this summer.
United States Attorney William J. Ihlenfeld, II announced that three 20-year-old men entered into pretrial diversion agreements after the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that these individuals admitted to aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft near the Martinsburg Airport on or about July 9, 2012. Pursuant to the written agreements, the three individuals will be supervised by the United States Probation Office for a period of 12 months. Among other conditions, these individuals will be required to work regularly at a lawful occupation and to perform 120 hours of community service. In the event that any of these individuals violate the conditions of their agreements, Ihlenfeld reserved the right to pursue the prosecution of the offenses.
“While a pretrial diversion was appropriate based upon the particular circumstances of these cases, I sincerely hope that these cases nevertheless serve to educate the community that this relatively new crime is a serious offense with real consequences,” said Ihlenfeld.
The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, enacted on February 14, 2012, established a new criminal offense for aiming the beam of a laser pointer at an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States or at the flight path of such an aircraft. Offenders are subject to a fine or a term of imprisonment of not more than five years, or both.
Local citizens need to realize the dangerous extent of laser pointers, and the extent of the punishment thereafter. Also, parents need to closely monitor any children using laser pointers as well.
Partial Information provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
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