30 April 2024

Are laser pointers illegal in Australia?

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A number of pieces of legislation in NSW deal with the legality of laser pointers and potential penalties.
Australia Criminal Law
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In recent years there has been an increase in the prominence of laser pointers and their use in various contexts.

A number of pieces of legislation in NSW deal with the legality of laser pointers and potential penalties.

What Are Laser Pointers?

Laser pointers are compact, battery-powered devices made to project a concentrated laser beam. They are categorised by their power output in milliwatts (mW) and vary in strength, dictating the intensity of the emitted beam.

Are Laser Pointers Illegal in NSW?

Laser pointers exceeding one milliwatt in power are illegal in NSW as they are classed as a prohibited weapon.

Section 11FA of the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW) makes it an offence for anyone in NSW to possess a laser pointer in a public place or use one without a reasonable excuse. The maximum penalty for this is $5500 and or two years in imprisonment.

Section 7 of the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 outlines that possessing an unauthorised laser pointer carries a maximum of 14 years imprisonment.

You must obtain a permit to possess or use a laser pointer within this category unless it is used by members of approved astronomical associations. To obtain a weapons permit, one must qualify under one of three permit categories: general, weapons dealer, or theatrical weapons armourer. Each category grants specific allowances for the possession and use of prohibited weapons.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, it is important to speak to experienced criminal lawyers in Parramatta for expert advice on any defences available to you.

Are Laser Pointers Illegal in Australia?

Laser pointers are illegal in Australia if they are used to affect the safe operation of 'Division 3' aircraft. Section 19 of the Crimes (Aviation) Act 1991 states that a person must not do anything capable of prejudicing the safe operation of a Division 3 aircraft. This offence carries a maximum penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment.

Why are Laser Pointers Illegal?

In recent times, some people have pointed laser beams into the cabins of motor vehicles and the cockpits of aircraft. This can blind drivers and pilots and has the potential to cause significant loss of life. Laser pointers with high output power are more likely to cause serious eye injuries, skin burns and permanent or temporary impaired vision.

If a laser with less than five milliwatts of output power is directed at someone's eye, they can blink or turn away to avoid injury. However, the protective mechanisms of the eye including the blink reflex are ineffective against lasers with an output power greater than five milliwatts and severe damage may occur.

In Australia, laser pointers are regarded as potentially hazardous items, subject to strict regulation due to their threat to public safety and the risk of eye injuries. Australian law rigorously controls the importation, possession, and utilization of high-power laser pointers, particularly those surpassing 1 milliwatt (mW).

What are Laser Pointers Used for?

Laser pointers are used in specific fields and applications and not for recreational purposes. They are used commonly in educational settings, as a way of pointing out certain parts of a board by teachers and professors. Laser pointers are used in astronomy as aiming devices in telescopes and to identify celestial objects.

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