Man Hit With 14-Year Prison Sentence For Shining Laser At Helicopter

The FBI wants you to know that they take shining laser pointers at aircraft very, very seriously. So seriously they're willing to throw your ass in prison for a decade and change if you do it.

A 26-year-old man in California was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Monday for shining a laser pointer at a helicopter in December 2012, U.S. News reports. The man, Sergio Rodriguez, was convicted of attempting to interfere with the operation of an aircraft. His penalty is the stiffest one so far for aiming a laser pointer at an aircraft. (Prosecutors also argued Rodriguez had a long rap sheet that included probation violations and gang ties.)

In addition, Rodriguez's girlfriend was convicted of the lesser charge of pointing a laser at an aircraft and could face five years in prison.

Laser pointing a plane or helicopter may seem like a stupid prank, but it's potentially blinding to the pilots and thus extremely dangerous. Unfortunately for the people who do it, the cops have ways of tracking down these offenders very quickly.

Why such a harsh sentence for Rodriguez? Because the FBI is trying to send a message, an agent told U.S. News:

"Rodriguez's sentence clearly demonstrates the seriousness of his actions and that the FBI will work with its law enforcement partners to locate and arrest those who engage in dangerous, improper use of hand-held lasers that puts us all at risk," said Monica Miller, special agent in charge at the FBI's Sacramento field office.

"Lasing aircraft is not a joke or a casual prank. It is reckless behavior that can have fatal consequences for air crew, passengers and the public on the ground," Miller said.

Next time you're thinking of "lasing" an aircraft, go find something else to do, I guess.

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