New Jersey bill targeting improper use of lasers nears passage

| 8/1/2007

As if there weren’t enough things to worry about while driving down the road, dodging lasers is becoming a more and more common problem for drivers across the country.

In New Jersey, the state Assembly unanimously approved a bill that would levy hefty fines on people who aim laser lighting devices at people operating airplanes, cars, trucks, buses, trains and other vehicles. The bill – A415 – has moved to Gov. Jon Corzine’s desk. The Senate previously approved it by unanimous consent.

Laser pointer manufacturers said they don’t have a problem with cracking down on those who abuse the technology that allows users to point to objects as far away as 25,000 feet. The pointers are popular among astronomy buffs for pointing out stars.

The issue of laser pointers gained notoriety a few years ago when a New Jersey man allegedly aimed a laser at a plane landing at the Teterboro, NJ, airport. He said he was pointing out a star to his daughter.

Since then, news reports from around the country have detailed instances when people shined laser lights at vehicles, aircraft and law enforcement officers.

The bill would fine anyone who shines a laser at a vehicle as much as $1,000. A laser-wielding scofflaw would also face up to six months in jail. If the usage of a laser causes injury, stiffer penalties would result.

The bill would also prohibit people from throwing or shooting something at vehicles as well as delaying or preventing the operation of vehicles.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey in 2007, click here.