Lasers can be dangerous weapons. If you use them on people in Washington state (especially police officers and crewmen on commercial ships) you can expect to be charged, prosecuted, and, in the case of one man, hit with a six-figure fine. Mark Raden was charged by the U.S. Coast Guard with aiming a powerful blue industrial laser at a ferry pilot house in October 2015. He injured two crew members, both of whom had to seek medical treatment, according to Ars Technica. Raden was fined $100,000 in a civil suit and still faces criminal felony charges.
It turns out this was not Raden’s first laser incident. There were two last July. Previously, he allegedly aimed lasers at a police officer and at people attending a beach party, as reported on HeraldNet. Raden faces felony charges in the incident in which he pointed a laser at a police officer’s face who arrived to stop him and a friend when people complained the two were taking turns pointing a laser into houses. Raden’s friend pled guilty to a misdemeanor, but Raden is due in court in June for both the ferry incident and the police assault.
In another incident that same month, Raden reportedly showed up at a beach bonfire party, and after irritated party goers told him to leave, pointed a laser at the head and body of one of them. Raden wasn’t charged in that incident, although the people on the beach called the police.
Washington state law is specific about pointing lasers. It’s illegal to point a laser with the intent to impair police officers, firefighters, or vehicle operators of any sort. Hopefully, the harsh penalties given to Raden will set a precedent, and dissuade other laser owners from engaging in this type of activity.