Laser pointers have been classed as controlled weapons under regulation changes, requiring people to demonstrate a lawful reason for possession.
Police Minister John Kobelke said the changes, which came into force at midnight on Saturday, followed a concerning number of reported instances in which laser pointers were used to distract pilots of planes and helicopters in Western Australian skies.
“Since I announced the intended changes a month ago, the Federal Government has recognised the dangers of the laser pointers and announced intentions to ban the importation of the devices,” Mr Kobelke said.
“The new regulations give police expanded powers to charge people who use laser pointers in a manner that may harm someone.
“These laser pointers, when used inappropriately, are not only a hazard to pilots at night, but place passengers and everyone on the ground at risk.
“Instances of improper use not only relate to aircraft, but have been reported at sporting events, in road traffic and everyday situations.
“People might think it is a bit of fun to point their laser at an aircraft, but it is a dangerous and stupid thing to do and they will now face harsh penalties for their actions.
“Police can identify many of these offenders and the new regulations will give them greater powers to prosecute.”
People who carry or possess a controlled weapon without a lawful excuse, or use it to potentially injure or disable another person, face a $4,000 fine or 12 months’ imprisonment.People who direct lasers at aircraft will continue to face prosecution under Commonwealth legislation for threatening the safety of an aircraft.
The Minister said there were still genuine reasons for people possessing and using laser pointers, and if used appropriately, these people had nothing to be concerned about and the new regulations would not affect them.
Numerous reports have been recorded of laser strike on aircraft in WA, including the Royal Flying Doctor plane, the police helicopter Polair and RAC Rescue 1 helicopter, as well as incidents involving commercial and private aircraft.
Minister's Office - 9222 9211