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Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Act 2018

Published Wednesday, May 30, 2018

This paper provides an overview of the Laser Misuse (Vehicles) Act 2018. The Act provides for new offences of shining or directing a laser beam towards a vehicle or air traffic facility, for which the maximum penalty would be imprisonment up to 5 years, an unlimited fine, or both.

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It is a response to concerns expressed over the years, particularly in the aviation industry and by the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA), about laser pens being shone in the direction of aircraft, threatening the safety of the craft and the eyesight of pilots and other personnel.

It creates offences, to:

  • direct or shine a laser beam towards a vehicle in such a way as to dazzle or distract, or be likely to dazzle or distract, the person driving, piloting, navigating or otherwise in control of that vehicle when it is moving or is ready to move; and
  • direct or shine a laser beam towards an air traffic facility, or to direct or shine a laser beam towards a person providing air traffic services, in both cases in such a way as to dazzle or distract, or be likely to dazzle or distract a person providing air traffic services.

The definition of ‘vehicle’ is widely drawn and includes not just planes, trains, ships and cars but bicycles, mobility scooters and horse-drawn carriages.

Paper does not deal with sale of laser pens, which is a separate consumer issue and not covered in this Bill. For more information on this issue see the 2017 Call for Evidence and the Government’s statement on 8 January.

Information on other transport issues can be found on the House of Commons Library website.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8263

Author: Louise Butcher

Topic: Aviation

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