Are Laser Pointers Illegal? Federal Rules on Laser Pointers

When it comes to owning a laser pointer, you may think that are laser pointers illegal? However, depending on which country you reside in, there may be federal and state regulations for what type of laser pointer is legal or illegal.

If you are wondering what laser pointers are illegal, then this article is for you. Now, you may be wondering, why would this be important? Well, there have been multiple cases where laser pointers have been used, and someone ended up either injured or dead. So, it’s important to keep lasers regulated.

Why Laser Pointers Are Dangerous

If you head onto Google, you’ll notice that there are plenty of news stories where someone has misused a laser pointer, and it ended up causing either a severe injury or even death. The issue with many laser pointers is that they can end up inhibiting someone's vision if pointed directly in the eye for too long. While most lasers have a safety feature and are created from safe chemicals, there are some that don’t follow these regulations.

Why Laser Pointers Are Dangerous

What Types of Laser Pointers Are Dangerous?

There are four different types of laser beams, and they’re separated into “classes”. This include Class 2, 3R, 3B, 4. The higher the laser beam is on the class level, the more dangerous it is.

Generally, you’ll find that Classes 2 and 3R are safe and won’t produce any damage to the eyes. On the other hand, Class 3B and 4 are very dangerous and have a high chance of producing permanent eye damage.

The other issue with laser pointers is that they are highly distracting. If someone is doing a job that requires their full attention, a laser pointer can be a deadly weapon. If flashed in the eyes, a person can have momentary blindness, even if just for a second, which can distract them long enough to end up in a severe and deadly situation.

There have been cases where people have flashed them into pilots’ eyes when they’re flying a plane, and this has caused crashes. There are also times when it’s happened while driving and while operating heavy equipment. Either way, laser pointers should not be used for fun and should only be handled professionally.

Federal Rules

According to federal law, there are strict guidelines when it comes to manufacturers and sellers of laser pointers. It’s completely legal to sell any laser pointer that has 5mW or less as long as it follows the FDA and CDRH production requirements. These include appropriate labeling, safety features, and quality control of each laser produced.

Now, if you’re someone who’s bought or owns a laser pointer that is deficient or over these regulations, you have nothing to fear. It’s legal for you to own and use one, as it’s not your fault that it’s not up to regulations.

However, as a consumer, it’s best to upgrade to a legal version. In most cases, the FDA will require the manufacturer to issue a repair, recall, or refund on the product.

State Laws Regarding Laser Pointers

When it comes to state laws on laser pointers, the general rule is that aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft, vehicle, or government worker is illegal. Anyone found doing this can risk spending up to five years in prison and be charged a fine of up to $250,000.

Here is a quick breakdown of the U.S. law regarding laser pointers:

  1. Anyone who knowingly aims a laser at an officer or another person will be punishable by law as a class 1 misdemeanor and will be fined.
  2. A person who aims a laser pointer at an occupied aircraft either intentionally or knowingly without proper training or qualifications can be punished to the full extent of the law. This act is also a class 1 misdemeanor and additional charges such as assault will be added if the person acquires any eye damage.
Laser Pointers

Local Laws Concerning Laser Pointers

Each state and city will have different laws regarding laser pointers. Here is a quick rundown of some of them:

  • Arkansas
    1. Illegal to aim at an officer
    2. Illegal for a minor to possess one without supervision
    3. Illegal to sell to a minor and will be fined $100
  • California
    1. Anyone who maliciously uses a laser and points it at someone will be charged with a crime.
    2. No student shall be allowed to possess or bring one onto school properties without school-related purposes.
    3. Anyone who uses the laser to point it into a dogs eye can be charged with harassment or mistreating an animal.
  • Florida
    1. Anyone who shines the light into someone's eyes who is operating a moving vehicle will be charged with a felony.

As you can see, there are many state and local laws regarding what type of use is punishable by law. If you want to avoid a messy situation, you should brush up on your local laws regarding where and when it’s appropriate to use a laser pointer.

Conclusion

When considering to purchase a laser pointer, always make sure that the manufacturer is up to date with the regulations for quality control. Also, make sure that you only use the device professionally and be careful not to shine it into anyone's eyes.

Generally, if you just use it professionally, then you won’t have to worry about any rules or regulations set by the state. Hopefully, this has taught you what laser pointers are illegal.

For your safety regarding lasers, we have hand-picked these laser goggles that can protect your eyes.

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  • Updated August 16, 2019
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