Consumers are being reminded by pilots that new laws from next month will mean they could face jail if they shine a laser at an aircraft.

The new laser laws, that come in to force on July 10, give police more powers to catch those who shine lasers at aircraft and put in place tougher punishments for those caught.

Under the new law, it will be a crime to shine or direct a laser beam that dazzles or distracts, or is likely to dazzle or distract, pilots, air traffic controllers, captains of boats and drivers of road vehicles.

Offenders face much tougher penalties of up to five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.

Police will no longer have to prove there was an intention to endanger a vehicle, which will mean laser users will not be able to hide behind claims they shone it at a vehicle by mistake.

British Airline Pilots Association flight safety specialist, Steve Landells, said: “Laser users need to get to grips with this law change or they could soon find themselves facing time in jail.

“Shining a laser at an aircraft can have serious, potentially fatal, consequences and it is right that people who misuse them should face tough penalties for endangering other people’s lives.”

He added: “Lasers are not toys. If you have one and don’t have a legitimate reason for owning it, or if you have bought one for your kids, we suggest you take the batteries out and throw it away.

“It’s not worth you, or someone close to you, getting a criminal record for the sake of what is mistakenly believed to be a toy.”