DENVER (KDVR) — A bill that would make it a state felony to point a laser at an aircraft is headed to the governor’s desk.
Colorado lawmakers passed the measure out of both chambers and sent it to Gov. Jared Polis on Monday.
Senate Bill 23-095 makes aiming a laser at an aircraft a Class 6 felony crime. That’s the lowest level of felony, but it could bring prison time and fines.
“When these lasers hit your cockpit, it refracts, and it fills your entire cockpit with green light for a moment, kind of blinding light,” SkyFOX photojournalist Angel Rosado said back in May 2020. This was after someone aimed a laser at the TV news stations’ shared helicopter during a night of protests.
If the governor signs the bill, it will take effect on July 1 and apply to any offenses committed then or after.
Bipartisan laser bill would have exemptions
The law would not apply under certain conditions, like if a person is using the laser to send an emergency distress signal. It also allows the act for research or training purposes, but only for aircraft manufacturers or certain federal authorities, like the Federal Aviation Administration or the Defense and Homeland Security departments.
The bipartisan bill was sponsored by Sen. Joann Ginal, D-Larimer; Sen. Bob Gardner, R-El Paso and Teller; Rep. Matt Soper, R-Delta and Mesa; and Rep. Lindsey Daugherty, D-Adams and Jefferson.
Pointing a laser at aircraft is a federal crime
It’s already a federal crime to do this. In 2021, a man pleaded guilty to simple assault of an aircraft after he was accused of pointing a laser at a Denver Police Department helicopter from Cheesman Park.
The helicopter crew was monitoring protests during the incident, and the laser illuminated its cockpit, prosecutors have said.