In for a good hand-spanking. Maybe even some yellow snow.

A 14-year-old boy was written a ticket for shining a laser at a helicopter on Sunday evening near a Beaumont, Texas, airport. Yours truly resides in Beaumont.

Beaumont police received a complaint from the chopper pilot who said that a green laser light was aimed at his aircraft. The incident happened around 8 p.m. as the craft approached the Beaumont Municipal Airport. The pilot lit his landing lights to illuminate the area and he reported seeing two individuals on the ground in front of a residence, police said.

The pilot landed at the airport and drove by the residence where he saw the laser light. The home was slightly more than a mile away. Police met with the pilot shortly afterward at a nearby supermarket.

Officers then dropped by to the residence and talked with the boy’s parents. The adults confirmed their son had a green laser pointer and called him outside to speak with the police. The boy confessed to shining the laser at the aircraft.

” … and did not realize how dangerous shining a laser at aircraft could be for pilots,” the police report added.

"I can't see, temporarily," but it's not the dog-doo snow cone that's blinding me. Photo: FBI
“I can’t see, temporarily,” but it’s not the husky wee wee that’s blinding me. Photo: FBI. Reference: “Nanook Rubs It” by Frank Zappa

Well gee whiz! I suppose the teen never watches television or reads internet stories about airline pilots being temporarily blinded by laser light.

The police press release said the laser was confiscated and the teen was written a “citation for pointing a laser at an aircraft.”

I looked up the specific Texas Penal Code that addresses such an offense. I was quite surprised that the offense is only a Class C misdemeanor. That is the same offense level as a parking ticket. The maximum fine for a Class C is $500 with no jail. Who knew?

The offense intensifies to a Class A misdemeanor if ” … the intensity of the light impairs the operator’s ability to control the aircraft … “ The maximum punishment for an ordinary Class A misdemeanor is a $4,000 fine.  A jail term of one year, or both the maximum fine and maximum jail term, may be imposed upon a guilty verdict, according to Chapter 12.21 of the Texas Penal Code.

Federal laws can be more severe with fines and sentences of up to five years in prison if convicted.

It just seems that getting a slap on the wrist for something so potentially harmful is so … nothing. Maybe the citation is all police can do legally or maybe it’s the side of town regulating the charge. I will be interested to hear if someone is brought up on similar charges and what they receive if found guilty. I mean, I don’t wish something like that on anyone. I’m just saying.

Remember kiddos: Don’t point your laser pointer at ANY aircraft. And whatever you do, don’t eat that yellow snow!



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