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21 year old arrested for hitting an aircraft with a laser

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Sounds like a pretty cool dog :D




My dog is odd when it comes to lasers. As a puppy 'chasing the spot' of a 5mW red was a favorite game. Now days some times she'll ignore it, sometimes she'll go after it, and sometimes she'll just go hide in another room and peer at me around the corner until I put it up. But then again i've had more than a few people tell me my dog is psychotic. heh. Another good example of this.. She freaks out over power outages too.
 

qumefox

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No, it does not require a license and no you are not breaking the law. I wish folks would stop and read the rules before promulgating falsehoods. Technically you are not breaking the law because there is no law covering what the individual laser owner does just for there own amusement, specifically meaning shining a >5mw into the sky.
You need to take your own advice here buddy.

Shining ANY laser into 'airspace' requires written notice to be provided to the FAA prior to any event.

And also, 'public demonstrations' of class 3b and up lasers REQUIRES a variance from the FDA.. ANY use where anyone OTHER than yourself can be 'exposed to the radiation emitting device' is considered a 'public demonstration' (regardless of if it's in a football stadium or in your basement) and is illegal without a variance, according to the rules. However enforcement of 'indoor' stuff is pretty much not going to happen unless someone actively complains. Outdoor.. your going to see more and more complaints and law enforcement getting involved as more people act stupidly with lasers.

There are no laws (in the US.. YET.) covering POSSESSION of class 3b and up lasers.. However their USE is very much regulated.

You may think you have the right to wave it around anywhere you please so long as it's not at an aircraft, but CFR 21 1040 says otherwise.
 
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steve001

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You need to take your own advice here buddy.

Shining ANY laser into 'airspace' requires written notice to be provided to the FAA prior to any event.

And also, 'public demonstrations' of class 3b and up lasers REQUIRES a variance from the FDA.. ANY use where anyone OTHER than yourself can be 'exposed to the radiation emitting device' is considered a 'public demonstration' (regardless of if it's in a football stadium or in your basement) and is illegal without a variance, according to the rules. However enforcement of 'indoor' stuff is pretty much not going to happen unless someone actively complains. Outdoor.. your going to see more and more complaints and law enforcement getting involved as more people act stupidly with lasers.

There are no laws (in the US.. YET.) covering POSSESSION of class 3b and up lasers.. However their USE is very much regulated.

You may think you have the right to wave it around anywhere you please so long as it's not at an aircraft, but CFR 21 1040 says otherwise.

I've read the CDRH rules and regulations. It is confusing. But the CDRH and certainly the FAA have no jurisdiction over the hobbyist unless that hobbyist enters their laser or lasers into commercial use or a circumstance similar to a commercial situation. There is no federal law that I'm presently aware of prohibiting the pass time of shining a laser into the sky.

I've been through this once before during this year with another member Electrofreak. Here's the thread http://laserpointerforums.com/f44/arrests-64774-6.html#post932047

Here's the salient post. Since I was getting nowhere with EF I decided to go to the source of authority to get an answer.

Me:
I took you up on your suggestion ElectroFreak and emailed the CDRH this morning, this is their reply. I've highlight the important part. Hopefully this will put an end to your misinterpretation of the regulations pertaining to this specific matter. Everything else you've both have mention above is irrelevant to this matter. For the rest of you I hope this puts your minds at ease
Me:
Dear Sir / Madam,
Could you clarify this if you can or forward this to the appropriate department.

For personal use only and with no intent to interfere or cause malice to aircraft, is it illegal to shine a class 3 or greater laser into the night sky. In short is there any federal law stating and prohibiting such an activity ?
I combed the CDRH site along with the web and have not come across such a law.

Thank you for your time.

Reply:
Hi Steve,

Shining a laser or high powered light into the sky is not, in itself, illegal, and amateur astronomers have been using lasers safely for quite a few years, but you may have read news articles about people being arrested and charged for illuminating aircraft. Currently, there are 2 federal regulations, one under the FAA and one under the Patriot Act, and various states have fines and possible prison time on the books against aircraft illumination. As you can imagine, pilots and law enforcement take these actions very seriously, as does the FDA. We have this article on our website, see: FDA Safety Notification: Risk of Eye and Skin Injuries from High-powered, Hand-held Lasers Used for Pointing or Entertainment, and here's a very interesting study of the problem by the FAA from 2006, see: http://www.faa.gov/library/reports/m...dia/200623.pdf , written by Mr. Van Nakagawara, who has posted several papers on the FAA website regarding the continuing problem. At this point, the FAA is reporting thousands of incidents per year.

Hope this helps,

Sincerely,

Cory Tylka | Consumer Safety Officer | Electronic Products Branch
Division of Mammography Quality and Radiation Programs | OCER/CDRH/FDA
Radiation-Emitting Products
 
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qumefox

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Actually your wrong on both counts. While the FAA doesn't have jurisdiction over 'lasers' per se, they DO have jurisdiction over anything entering 'airspace'.. including beams of coherent photons. It's true they can't arrest you(unless you actually strike an aircraft), but they can fine the hell out of you. Probably only a worry if you live near an airport though.

And the FDA's definition of 'commercial use' intentionally vague, and according to people who actually do variance paperwork for a living, pretty much means 'anything outside your home.' This is easy to find out. Just call the CDRH and ask them if it's legal for a hobbyist to wave a high power laser around in the air outside without having gotten a show variance. The answer you get will be, to sum it up, "Hell no. You need all the variances and the other paperwork to do it legally'. The kicker here is that you can't get a variance unless the laser itself has had a product report filed and a manufacturers variance approved on it.
 
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I've talked to a few cops recently and all of them have told me the same thing
"As long as you're not shining lasers at planes we don't give a shit"
Obviously that doesn't mean it's legal but this discussion about legality is more about precedents set in case law as opposed to statutory law. Can you be arrested/fined for shining a laser into the sky? Yes. Is it likely? No.
 

Haloid95

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In my city, people at the park are always shining green lasers in the air and I have never seen a cop approach anyone. Lots of people have 5-10mw green lasers in my city.
 

steve001

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Actually your wrong on both counts. While the FAA doesn't have jurisdiction over 'lasers' per se, they DO have jurisdiction over anything entering 'airspace'.. including beams of coherent photons. It's true they can't arrest you(unless you actually strike an aircraft), but they can fine the hell out of you. Probably only a worry if you live near an airport though.

And the FDA's definition of 'commercial use' intentionally vague, and according to people who actually do variance paperwork for a living, pretty much means 'anything outside your home.' This is easy to find out. Just call the CDRH and ask them if it's legal for a hobbyist to wave a high power laser around in the air outside without having gotten a show variance. The answer you get will be, to sum it up, "Hell no. You need all the variances and the other paperwork to do it legally'. The kicker here is that you can't get a variance unless the laser itself has had a product report filed and a manufacturers variance approved on it.
Even with a written response right from the horses mouth you still insist it's illegal. Ok let's review this
Among the categories listed do you see any reference to personal usage ? What does this document tell you ?
Laser Light Shows

And this
(13)Demonstration laser product means any laser product manufactured, designed, intended, or promoted for purposes of demonstration, entertainment, advertising display, or artistic composition. The term "demonstration laser product" does not apply to laser products which are not manufactured, designed, intended, or promoted for such purposes, even though they may be used for those purposes or are intended to demonstrate other applications. CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21
And this. Do you see any reference to an individual in this document regarding those that have to notify the FAA ? LASER FAQ and Contact Information
 
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qumefox

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It tells me nothing I don't already know. And you should probably ask Mr Tylka again, and make sure you inform him you're referring to class 3b and up lasers.. Then you'll receive a drastically different answer from him.

You have to keep in mind the terminology in use here. The FDA doesn't consider anything class 3b and up to be a pointer. In fact they specifically state that portable lasers above 5mW CAN NOT be sold or marketed as pointers.

When you ask them about 'laser pointers' without stating power outputs, To them this means 5mW and down.
 
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steve001

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It tells me nothing I don't already know. And you should probably ask Mr Tylka again, and make sure you inform him you're referring to class 3b and up lasers.. Then you'll receive a drastically different answer from him.
Contact Mr. Tylka by email and ask the question. Is it illegal to point a class 3b or class 4 laser into the sky ?

You have to keep in mind the terminology in use here. The FDA doesn't consider anything class 3b and up to be a pointer. In fact they specifically state that portable lasers above 5mW CAN NOT be sold or marketed as pointers.
That's right I am paying attention to the wordage and that's why under federal reg [Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 21, Volume 8][Revised as of April 1, 2011][CITE: 21CFR1040.10] it reads
The term "demonstration laser product" does not apply to laser products which are not manufactured, designed, intended, or promoted for such purposes, even though they may be used for those purposes or are intended to demonstrate other applications.
When you ask them about 'laser pointers' without stating power outputs, To them this means 5mW and down.
Actually I was specific and as you'll read I made no mention of laser pointers.
For personal use only and with no intent to interfere or cause malice to aircraft, is it illegal to shine a class 3 or greater laser into the night sky. In short is there any federal law stating and prohibiting such an activity ?
The balls in your court. When you get the answer by email from Mr. Tylka post it here.

Side note. There's no law prohibiting owners of other very bright sources of light from shining their high powered light into the night sky.
 
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Guyfromhe

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When I lived in NJ I had set up a simple multi-mirror shape generator (I don't remember what it is actually called, it just made spirals and basic effects) and I projected my 5mW green against the side of MY HOUSE one night while testing it out....

Four of my neighbors called the cops on me. Thankfully I knew the police chief and he gave me a call first to check up on things, when I explained what actually went on he dismissed everything and told me that I had best keep my toys in doors. I took it all inside and set it up inside, and one neighbor called the cops on me again, saying he could see my "light beams" inside my windows. In the end I just decided to shelv my lasers, it wasn't worth losing them or going to jail. I wound up owing the chief a case of beer for his help - I got off super easy. My lasers sat abandoned for about 2 years.

I'm so glad I live in the country now, my nearest neighbor is more than a mile away, and I only have 3 neighbors.
It's called a Spirograph.
Wow your neighbors sound like dicks...

I did a little outdoor laser show with my projector for a party I had and my neighbors thought it was cool and no one called the cops on me :p

I don't understand why they were looking in your windows and bitching about it... You shoulda called the cops and complained that the neighbors were spying on you :p
 

qumefox

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Actually i'm done competing in this special olympics. I'll continue to follow my interpretation of the laws and stay out of jail and avoid the fines, and you and everyone else can continue doing as you damn well please until lasers get banned outright and even possession becomes illegal.
 
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"one neighbor called the cops on me again, saying he could see my "light beams" inside my windows."

Yeah. My response to this as soon as I hear it is "Why the Hell are they spending time looking into your windows ?" Are they admitting to being "peeping Toms" and should be charged for it ? Or are they really just jealous that you have some neat toys that they couldn't fathom ever owning or knowing how to use ?
Probably just intimidating them with your perceived intellect.

I have been involved with lighting, smoke and even some pyro effects since I was a young teen. As long as you aren't endangering others you should be free to do as you please on your own property.( In both the US and Canada.)
If it ever comes down to it, if you can prove that you were being safe and trying to respect the safety, and possibly the convenience of your neighbors, as well as others (meaning you don't aim bright lights towards walls so that the neighbors house is bathed in a bright wash of light reflected back kind of thing, or clouds of smoke billow into their property setting off smoke detectors, or things like that.) then usually the local law enforcement just give you the obligatory speech to make sure you keep it under control and then they leave.
It is so hard to prosecute someone who demonstrates that they were trying to be smart and safe.
This would also apply to handheld devices outdoors. If you are being smart and safe then there is a lot of trouble trying to punish you. Laws tend to work on intent. If you prove you were intending to harm no-one then a lot of money need to be invested into proving otherwise. And very few legal representatives would be willing to make those investments unless the return is worth much more.

And if more people learn that pointing lasers at others is dangerous and stupid then I think it actually helps in the long run. True that the short term effects could turn out to be a problem but there would seem to be enough of a demand by those of us that are serious and respectful of the products that it would be a bit of a problem for the producers of the products to just give it all up and quit supplying everything. In these days of tough economic times every sale helps the bottom line. And we make up at least a measurable portion of those sales. So there will be some issues to be resolved. That would help control the idiots.
Perhaps a system to make sure that for ownership you need to know and understand the hazards. I think that most of us would have no problem demonstrating that knowledge.

Firearms are much more hazardous but they are still produced, developed, and owned by millions. The economics of the industry dictate that it won't be disappearing any time soon.

I would venture to say that the same holds true for lasers.
 

Sigurthr

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Yeah, my neighbors in NJ were nutjobs. I always just tossed it off as they had nothing better to do with their lives than stare at what I was doing.

I'm sure I could have stood my ground and fought, but it wasn't worth the headache.
 

steve001

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Yeah, my neighbors in NJ were nutjobs. I always just tossed it off as they had nothing better to do with their lives than stare at what I was doing.

I'm sure I could have stood my ground and fought, but it wasn't worth the headache.
Nosy neighbors for sure. I would have continued as there is and was no infraction of the law.
 

CH4RLIE

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This is why I never point a laser at anything moving in the sky... that man should not have been given a laser... and yes those people do give us the bad name.
 




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