The Illumination of Aircraft by Intense Light crime in the state of Texas gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you pointed a laser pointer at an aircraft. Learn more detailed information about the Illumination of Aircraft by Intense Light Crime offense below.
ILLUMINATION OF AIRCRAFT BY INTENSE LIGHT ATTORNEY FAQs
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In response to a rising concern that the proliferation of high-powered lasers pose a risk to airliners if used inappropriately, the Texas state legislature created this offense in 2007 in House Bill 1586.
Illumination of Aircraft by Intense Light is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 9 “Offenses Against Public Order and Decency”, Chapter 42 “Disorderly Conduct and Related Offenses.”
The current Texas law defines the offense of Illumination of Aircraft by Intense Light in Penal Code Section §42.14 as follows:
(a) 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.
You can be charged with Illumination of Aircraft by Intense Light if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of 42.14(a) as described in the section above have been met.
You can be convicted even if the light did not actually impair the airplane. The light itself has to be bright enough to be able to cause distress to the pilot, which is really a question about the nature of the light, not a question of what happened in the specific instance. If the light did in fact impair the operator’s ability to control the aircraft, then the state’s attorneys can use this to enhance the offense to a Class A misdemeanor.
A conviction for Illumination of Aircraft by Intense Light is punished as a Class C misdemeanor, with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $500. But the state of Texas can charge this offense as a Class A misdemeanor, with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $4,000 and up one year of jail time, if they believe you impaired the pilots ability to control the aircraft. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors