Posted on July 17, 2018 in General
The Fourth of July holiday may have come and gone, but that doesn’t stop the fun of fireworks. Throughout the summer months, Floridians purchase and set off fireworks on their property. But is it legal? Can you face legal action for setting off illegal fireworks? An understanding of applicable Florida law regarding fireworks use is essential. Learn how the state regulates fireworks and possible punishments for breaking the law.
Permissible Fireworks in Florida
Florida allows for a small number of permissible fireworks under state law. According to Florida statutes, the law approves only sparklers, “glow worms,” and small fireworks that only emit colored smoke for consumer use. Generally, you cannot set off anything that explodes, combusts, or leaves the ground as a consumer without a permit.
Which Fireworks Are Illegal?
Florida law specifically outlines the sale and use of fireworks throughout the state that explode or leave the ground. Examples of these fireworks include:
- Roman Candles
- Cherry Bombs
Florida Statute 791 specifically states the consumer use of these types of products is illegal and presents a threat to public safety. The only parties allowed to use these types of fireworks are industrial professionals for the purpose of public displays, and these people require a permit to do so.
What Do Fireworks Bans Mean?
Since so many types of fireworks are already illegal, it seems odd that some areas would have explicit fireworks bans. However, some counties and cities have put a ban on even the legal types of fireworks in light of drought and dangerous fire conditions. If your city or county has a fireworks ban, this means you might not even be able to set off sparklers. Your best bet is to contact your local fire department or marshal and ask for further details.
Why Can I Buy Illegal Fireworks?
In spite of statewide bans on fireworks, some stands still sell illegal configurations such as mortars and roman candles. Stands might have you sign a waiver to purchase fireworks, but this doesn’t clear you of responsibility for breaking the law. When purchasing fireworks for your celebrations, avoid buying anything that explodes or leaves the ground. Avoid roadside stands and purchase your fireworks from a licensed establishment, which is more likely to be in compliance with Florida law.
Possible Punishments for Setting Off Illegal Fireworks
Setting off illegal fireworks in Florida carries criminal punishments. Under the penal code, it’s a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in county jail and fines up to $1,000.
Fireworks also carry a risk of injury that can lead to other civil punishments like personal injury claims or even a premises liability lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances, for example, if a firework you purchase or set off explodes and injures another person, you could be civilly liable for any damages they cause. Similarly, if your fireworks cause a fire, you may have to pay restitution for any property damage you proximally caused.
General Fireworks Safety Tips
Having restrictions on fireworks doesn’t have to spoil your seasonal fun. Use the following tips to use legal fireworks in Florida safely:
- Always use legal fireworks on a flat surface, never on grass.
- Use sparklers in an open area, never inside
- Keep all children and pets at least 30 feet away from ignited sparklers
- Only light one legal firework at a time
- Never allow young children to light or play around fireworks
- Always keep a fire extinguisher on hand for emergencies
- Drop used sparklers in a bucket of water
- Don’t carry sparklers in your pocket or light them in containers
Florida has strict restrictions on fireworks and their proper use, but that shouldn’t spoil your summer. Know the local laws and observe some basic safety tips as you ignite legal fireworks at your summer celebrations.