New Michigan Law: Pointing Lasers at Trains and Planes is Illegal!

Pointing a laser at an airborne plane from the ground is now illegal in Michigan


In early May of this year, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill into law that addressed the issue of lasers, planes and trains. Nope, you’re thinking of that goofy 80’s movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. This is something completely different. (And far more serious!)


It all began in February of this year. Several different helicopter and airplane pilots reported being temporarily blinded while flying over western Oakland County and the Detroit Metropolitan Airport. The culprit? Ground-based directed energy devices, which is the fancy way of saying laser beams held by people standing on the ground, pointing them up at the sky. Yes, those are those little laser pointers that lots of kids all over Detroit have.


In response to what many perceived as a real threat to people’s lives, State Representative Tom Barrett introduced a bill that would make pointing a laser at a plane (or any other airborne vehicle) and trains illegal here in Michigan. His efforts were partnered by Representative Laura Cox, who also introduced a bill addressing the same questionable conduct.


The bills received significant support, especially after The Michigan State Police testified before the House Law and Justice Committee about an MSP helicopter and three other aircraft that had all been struck by a laser on the same day.


In speaking to the media about the new laser law, Cox said that “This law addresses a growing public safety issue. It may seem harmless from the ground to point a laser pointer you got at a hardware store at a helicopter, but there’s the possibility of a pilot or a train conductor being temporarily blinded. It’s a danger to anyone in the paths of the planes and trains.”


Governor Snyder signed House Bill 4063 into law in May, making it Public Act No. 29, and after a 90 day waiting period, the law went into effect just a few days ago. It is now officially illegal here in Michigan to point a laser of any kind at a train, an airplane, a helicopter, or any other type of aircraft. Anyone accused of doing so will be charged with a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of $10,000, or both.


It is already illegal under federal law to point a laser at any aircraft.


This is apparently a problem that seems to be growing with every passing year. When addressing the the House Law and Justice Committee, Barrett, who serves as a helicopter pilot in the Michigan National Guard, said that there was nothing he could think of that was more dangerous than blinding a person who was at the controls of an aircraft or a train, even for a few seconds.


Another piece of information that Barrett shared was the fact that in 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration reported more than 3,800 laser pointer to aircraft incidents. The number had grown since then. “The reports of aircraft being struck by these directed energy devices is only increasing, as is the possibility of a catastrophic accident affecting passengers and people on the ground.” Barrett said in a media release.


We highly recommend to all of our readers that they be very careful when playing with laser beams. Even harmless play can result in tragedy when not carefully managed. Also, we suggest that you discuss this with your children, as this is the kind of horsing around that would likely appeal to teenagers who do not fully understand the gravity of the situation and the possible outcome.


If however, a choice that you or your child has made has had unintended but devastating results, contact The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. We understand that mistakes can sometimes have unforeseen consequences, and we can help you piece your life back together again. Our highly skilled criminal defense attorneys have spent years helping the people of Michigan with very successful results, and we can help you too!


Back to
Top ▲
Aggressive Criminal Defense