Police Warn Targeting Planes With Lasers Is a Crime

The Palm Beach International Airport has reported more attempts to shine lasers at planes through July of 2021 than throughout all of 2020. The issue appears to be a Florida problem and Palm Beach specifically has seen a major increase in lasers being shined at airplanes.

While pranksters may think that they’re being funny, for pilots, it’s potentially dangerous. When the pilots are flying helicopters or aircraft, the laser gets into the cockpit and can be nearly blinding. Those inside attempt to shield their eyes from the laser while they should be concentrating on flying. If the laser gets into their eyes it can cause either temporary or permanent blindness. These flights range from private aircraft, to commercial airliners, to mercy and medical flights.

When a pilot notices that they’re being hit by a laser, they usually call it in. Local law enforcement teams up with federal aviation authorities to determine the source of the laser. If they find the individual behind the laser, they can face criminal charges and up to $30,000 in fines.


Charges were filed against one man who was later located on a forklift. As police attempted to approach him, he used his laser on them as well. When police got close enough to confront him, he picked up a hammer, and was charged with aggravated assault against a police officer, and shining a laser at a pilot without causing injury. According to the pilot, the man’s laser had hit him directly in the eyes causing temporary blindness. His vision was still blurry hours later.

Terrorism charges

Thus far, no one has faced terrorism charges related to shining a laser at an airplane. But if police caught wind of the fact that the defendant was attempting to bring down the plane by shining the laser at it, terrorism charges are not out of the question. That, however, would require additional evidence against the defendant, including affiliation with known extremist groups and a clear conspiracy in place to cause harm to the federal government or the American populace.

Don’t shine lasers at airplanes

Intentionally shining a laser at an aircraft is a serious crime in the State of Florida. It is also a federal crime for which you can face federal charges since the FAA is a federal agency. If the pilot is injured or loses control of the aircraft, you can expect that the government will not stop trying to hunt you down. While actually finding individuals responsible for these crimes remains difficult, lasers tend to move in predictable ways allowing the source of the laser to occasionally be identified. Further, the FAA has a hotline where people can report laser activity to the FAA.

Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney

If you’ve been accused of a serious crime, contact the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. today. We will discuss the charges against you, and then prepare your defense to the charges. Call today to learn more!



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