Laser pointers are hand held, battery operated devices designed or adapted to emit a laser beam that may be used for the purposes of aiming, targeting or pointing. In recent times, some members of the public have acted irresponsibly by directing the laser beam into the cabins of motor vehicles and the cockpits of aircraft. This reckless practice can blind drivers and pilots and has the potential to cause significant loss of life.
To put a stop to such behaviour, the Government has made it an offence for anyone to have a laser pointer in their custody in a public place or to use a laser pointer in a public place without a reasonable excuse. If a police officer has reasonable grounds for suspecting that you are in possession of a laser pointer in a public place, they may search you, confiscate the laser and commence legal action.
The NSW Police Force understands that people use laser pointers for legitimate purposes and that some people need to carry their laser pointers around with them. For example, some teachers and builders use laser pointers in their jobs and need to carry them to and from their workplaces. Low powered laser pointers will continue to be available for such uses. Other people carry lasers to pursue hobbies such as astronomy. Rest assured that if you have a reasonable excuse for carrying your laser, then there will not be a problem.
New legislation also restricts who can possess and/or use laser pointers with a power level of greater than one milliwatt. From 18 July 2008 you will require a permit to possess or use such a laser pointer, unless an exemption applies to you. To apply for a permit, you will need to contact the Firearms Registry on 1300 362 562 or visit the Prohibited Weapon Permits page. Permits will only be issued to applicants who have a genuine reason for having such a device. For example, that the laser pointer is required for the type of business/employment in which you are engaged.
Note that you will not need to obtain a permit to possess/use a laser pointer with a power level greater than one milliwatt if you are a member of an approved astronomical organisation.
Also be aware that if you obtained the laser pointer before 18 July 2008, you will not need to obtain a permit until 1 December 2008. Thereafter, if you wish to retain your laser pointer, you will need to obtain a permit through the Firearms Registry.
If you have specific questions about the law on laser pointers please visit the Questions and Answers page.