Illumination of Aircraft by Intense Light

A person commits an offense if:

(1) the person intentionally directs a light from a laser pointer or other light source at an aircraft; and

(2) the light has an intensity sufficient to impair the operator’s ability to control the aircraft.

The law requires a specific intent in this case, but the law does not require the aircraft to be impaired. So long as the light source is actually powerful enough to affect the pilot, then subsection (2) applies. The state prosecuting attorneys may, however, have a difficult time proving that you intended to shine the laser pointer at the aircraft.

Punishment Range

Class C Misdemeanor:

  • Maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $500;

If they believe you impaired the pilots ability to control the aircraft you can be charged with Class A misdemeanor:

  • with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $4,000 and up one year of jail time.

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