LEGALESE — Fireworks

As I sat in my friends’ driveway on New Year’s Eve, enjoying their neighbors fireworks display, and wondering if any of it were legal. So I looked it up.

In Georgia, there is a difference between “Consumer Fireworks” and plain old “Fireworks.” “Consumer Fireworks” are “any small fireworks devices containing restricted amounts of pyrotechnic composition, designed primarily to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, that comply with the construction, chemical composition, and labeling regulations of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission…and additionally shall mean Roman candles.” O.C.G.A. 25-10-1.

To help understand exactly what that means, it is helpful to understand what Consumer Fireworks are not, and by that, the Code goes on further to explain what non-consumer Fireworks are: “’Fireworks’ means any combustible or explosive composition or any substance of combination of substances or article prepared for the purpose of producing a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration, or detonation, including blank cartridges, firecrackers, torpedos, skyrockets, bombs, sparklers, and any other combustibles and explosives of like construction, as well as articles containing any explosive or flammable compound and tablets and other devices containing an explosive substance.” O.C.G.A. 25-10-1.

Clear as mud?

Whether you are talking about standard Fireworks or Consumer Fireworks, it is illegal (as well as ill advised) to use them indoors.

You can use Consumer Fireworks any time you want, provided that it is between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 Midnight. Be aware, however, that your county or municipality might have noise ordinances or other types of regulations that further restrict these hours. Also bear in mind that you’d kind of be a jerk to set off a bunch of fireworks at 11:55pm on a school night and make all the dogs in the neighborhood howl and wake everyone up. No law against being a jerk, but, well, don’t be one.

There are exceptions for January 1, July 3 &4, and December 31. On those dates of each year, you can use fireworks from Midnight until 2:00 a.m.

There are exceptions, naturally. You can’t set the fireworks off with a timer – you actually have to be present. You also can’t set them off within “100 yards of a nuclear power facility or a facility engaged in the retail sale of gasoline or the production, refining, processing, or blending of gasoline for such retail purposes.” Seems to me this would be common sense, but, then again, common sense isn’t always all that common.

Also, counties and/or municipalities can issue permits for people or entities to set off fireworks at different times.

You can’t “use or explode or cause to be exploded or…possess, manufacture, transport, or store consumer fireworks” if you are under 18. Sorry, tenth graders.

Of course, if you do choose to use fireworks, please be safe. No bang or spark or display is exciting or thrilling enough to be worth the loss of a finger or eye or hearing or, possibly, a life.

This was written by a lawyer, but is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice of any kind.  No lawyer can advise you about your case without knowing the specifics of your situation.

Photo credit: Morguefile
Photo credit: Morguefile
About Lori Duff 352 Articles
Lori is the author of the bestselling collection of humor essays, "Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza" currently available exclusively on Amazon. In order to finance her writing habit, she is a practicing lawyer with Jones & Duff, LLC. She is married to Mike Duff, who is a retired DeKalb County Public Safety Officer, and has two amazing children who make cameo embarrassing appearances in her blog posts and who attend Walton County Public Schools. Her legal column, "Legalese", is meant to de-mystify and humanize the Court system. When asked about her writing, Lori says, "Life is too short not to laugh at every available opportunity. My goal is to make myself laugh -- and hopefully you will laugh along with me."

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