OCEAN CITY, Md. - They can be a danger to drivers, pilots, just about anyone. We're talking about laser pointers. And they're typically small, but these laser pointers can pack a lot of power.
Which is why in 2010, the city approved an ordinance which made the use of such devices within city limits against the law. And if you're under 18, it's even illegal to own or purchase one.
But nearly 2 years after the ordinance took effect, Ocean City police say there are upwards of 80 recent reports of illegal laser pointer use. So far, there have been no recent accidents or crashes reported, directly resulting from the laser pointers directed at traffic, but police are not waiting for that to happen. They're reminding visitors that the law is still being strictly enforced. "The laser pointers are being shined in the faces of people driving," explains Mike Levy, "It's harassing people who are walking. Our mounted patrol officers have had the beam shined across their animals faces."
Ocean City stores can sell the laser pointers, but it's the responsibility of store owners to let buyers know about the law.
"I didn't receive a piece of paper with mine," admits Shannon Pohar, visiting from New York who bought a laser pointer from a boardwalk business on Monday. Police say stores are required to provide the purchaser with a written notice, in bold face type, a copy of the Ocean City Code.
Her cousin, Jack Sullivan says he got the notice, but tells WMDT he wasn't properly informed, and feels somewhat ripped off, "I didn't find out about any of it until they gave me the paper after I purchased the thing. I guess it was just a waste of money cause now I just really wouldn't have any use for it cause there's nothing really to do with it."
Although it's a misdemeanor, penalties can be pretty hefty. Anyone who violates the law could face up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.