Idaho Homeowners Could Face Hefty $11,000 Fine For Setting Up Christmas Lights Incorrectly
We’re all for embracing your inner Clark Griswold, but if you take it too far there’s a chance there may not be much left in your bank account for Christmas gifts or Christmas dinner.
Infomercials have the reputation of being incredibly cringy and turning simple everyday tasks like opening a jar, cooking pasta or watering your garden into monumental problems. We may make jokes about them, but in 2015 America was captivated by one that was a little too relatable.
The three-minute commercial introduced us to the latest innovation in Christmas decorating technology. This groundbreaking product was created to cut down on the hours we spend untangling, testing and hanging Christmas lights on our homes. Instead of doing that, you simply placed the product in your yard, hit a button and made your house look festive without you having to step on a ladder. That product was called the “Star Shower Laser Light.”
The first holiday season that they were on the market, Star Showers were so popular that they were harder to find than a Tickle Me Elmo in 1996. They were a hit with homeowners, but there was one government agency that hated them and still does today. That agency? The Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA explains that when lasers are pointed at the sky, they can distract or temporarily blind pilots which puts the safety of everyone on an aircraft at risk.
Idaho is Part of the Laser Problem
The FAA keeps records of “laser events” affecting planes and has a database online that’s publicly accessible. In 2014, Idaho only had seven laser events: two in Boise and one in Mountain Home. Only one report was during the holiday season.
In 2015, the year that Star Shower hit the market, Idaho had 28 laser incidents: 23 in Boise, three in Nampa and one in Mountain Home. 13 of the local events happened during the holiday season.
Five years later, the number of incidents in Idaho rose to 49 with 22 of those incidents happening during the holiday season. In 2021, Idaho had 64 laser incidents with 13 of them recorded in November or December.
Overall, Idaho ranks 19th for the most laser events per capita out of 50 states and Washington D.C.
Laser Events Carrying Scary Penalties
We don’t think that homeowners using a laser show are purposely being malicious and putting pilots in danger. Those who set their laser shows in a position where some of the beams shoot at the sky instead of the home or shrubbery probably did so by accident.
That’s why the FAA will give you a free pass the first time they contact you if your display is negatively affecting pilots. According to their website, they’ll nicely ask you to adjust the lasers or turn them off. But ignoring those warnings is a bad idea. If you ignore the warning, they can come after you with a fine of up to $11,000 per violation and up to $30,800 for multiple incidents. You could also face criminal penalties from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
If you’re thinking “yeah, but do they actually enforce this?” They do. The FAA issued $120,000 in laser-related fines last year.