We Fight To Protect Your Rights

Why is misusing a laser pointer a crime?

On Behalf of | May 28, 2024 | CRIMINAL LAW - Criminal Defense

Laser pointers help professionals highlight key points during presentations and lectures, while children often use them for amusement. However, most laser pointers on the market emit power beyond regulatory limits. Despite their seemingly harmless appearance, misusing laser pointers can lead to real, significant harm and severe legal consequences.

The unexpected dangers of laser pointers

When targeted by a laser pointer, the experience goes beyond being merely annoying. It can cause temporary blindness and lead to serious consequences.

  • Aircraft: Directing a laser at planes and other aircraft can temporarily blind pilots, a dangerous situation that has occurred in over 500 incidents between 2010 and 2020 in Maryland. This not only puts pilots at risk but also endangers crew members, passengers, and nearby communities.
  • Vehicles: A sudden flash from a laser pointer may impair a driver’s vision, leading to disorientation. This may increase the risk of accidents for all road users.
  • People: Shining a laser at individuals may constitute harassment or assault. Depending on the strength of the laser, it may cause temporary blindness or even burn injuries.

The FBI has identified two primary groups commonly involved in these offenses: minors without criminal records, often influenced by peer pressure and adults with criminal histories who intend to cause harm. Considering the risks, Maryland will rigorously enforce penalties and treat the offense with utmost seriousness.

Penalties for misusing laser pointers in Maryland

In Maryland, individuals caught misusing laser pointers may face misdemeanor charges, with penalties that can include fines up to $500. While using these devices might seem like harmless fun, the potential dangers and legal implications are significant.

Using standard laser pointers for work purposes is generally fine. However, it is vital to use them responsibly to avoid endangering others or facing criminal charges.