With Independence Day upon us, this would be a good time to review whether consumers can purchase fireworks legally in New York, which has created a confusing system.
Only three states – New Jersey, Massachusetts and Delaware – completely ban consumer fireworks. Since 2011, seven states — including New York — have lifted restrictions on the sale of most types of consumer fireworks. The reason for this to allow New York to collect the additional tax revenue that the sales raise.
Not all fireworks are for sale to the public in New York. New York only allows consumers to purchase and use ground-based or handheld sparkling devices, including cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, and wood sparklers/dipped sticks, as well as party poppers and snappers. Metal wire sparklers are not legal because they stay hot for a long time after burning out and retain heat long after use.
But, this is where it gets complicated.
County governments must “opt-in” to allow fireworks sales within its county boundaries. To date, only 31 of the 62 counties have opted-in. New York City has not. Click the link to see which counties have opted-in.
The law also limits the dates fireworks can be sold. In the counties that have opted-in, fireworks can be sold June 1 through July 5 — and then again from Dec. 26 through Jan. 2 — only to buyers 18 or older.
It is illegal to possess and use fireworks in counties that did not opt-in to the change in the law, even if you legally purchased them in a county which opted-in. So, if you buy legal fireworks in a county that opted-in, but use them in a place that did not opt-in, then you are breaking the law.
Also, it is still illegal in New York to sell and purchase any device that shoots up in the air, or sends out a projectile, such as aerial consumer fireworks, firecrackers and chasers, skyrockets, Roman candles, and bombs.
The best advice we could give you in navigating New York’s fireworks law is to check out a fireworks display in your area – it’s a lot more fun to watch them go off in a controlled environment than it is to spend a day in court and explain getting caught with illegal fireworks that may have been legal when you bought them.
*Gene Berardelli may be contacted at: GeneBerardelli@ipglegal.com
Gene is a New York street-smart attorney with an extreme passion for success. Gene specializes in litigation, arbitration and general corporate law for New York-based and international clients. He, also, is the host of a popular New York talk radio program.
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