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$11,000 per violation: FAA sends warning about holiday laser lights

Laser holiday light projectors that people point at their homes contain concentrated beams that can disorient or temporarily blind pilots.

As families put up holiday light displays at their homes this year, the Federal Aviation Administration is asking them to be mindful of making sure laser light displays are pointed at the house and not at the sky. They can cause a distraction or temporary blindness to pilots.

The FAA said Friday that homeowners may not be aware of just how far those laser lights can travel. Laser strikes have been reported as high as 10,000 feet, according to FAA data.

"So please make sure all laser lights are directed at your house and not pointing towards the sky," the agency said in a statement. "The extremely concentrated beams of laser lights reach much farther than you might realize."

The FAA said display owners who violate the policy will get a warning, but failure to fix it could lead to hefty penalties.

"We may impose civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation," the FAA said. "Civil penalties of up to $30,800 have been imposed by the FAA against individuals for multiple laser incidents."

Laser strikes -- intentional or unintentional -- are a growing problem. The FAA said it has already received 8,550 laser strike reports in 2021, the most ever in a single year. It's already 1,700 more reports than all of 2020 combined.

Peak activity for laser strikes happens Friday and Saturday, according to FAA data. Over the last six years, incidents have tended to ramp up in November and December.

Laser strike records were first compiled in 2010. Between 2010 and 2020, California, Texas and Florida have reported the most total laser events. But the most per capita over that time have happened in Hawaii (63.71 per 100,000 people) followed by the District of Columbia (56.11) and Nevada (45.32).

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