With the Fourth of July celebrations approaching, I get a good deal of
questions regarding the legality of possessing and shooting off fireworks
in Florida. It seems to be confusing because there are tents on the side
of the road selling all kinds of fireworks. If they can sell them out
in the open, they must be legal, right? Not necessarily. My general answer
to my friends is if you want to see good fireworks go see a professional
show. Do not do it yourself. Most of the fun fireworks are illegal for
the average Florida citizen like you and me. Under Florida Statue 791,
the only fireworks legal for use by us are categorized as sparklers. Sparklers
are the non-exploding fireworks most commonly known and sold as Fountains,
Glow Worms, Snakes, and Sparklers. None of which are very exciting if
you are over the age of six years old.
Believe it or not the roadside tents or stores who sell these fireworks
may not be breaking the law. They are using a loophole that allows them
to sell fireworks only for legal and approved uses. If you purchase non-sparkler
fireworks, the seller will often ask you to sign a waiver. By signing
this waiver, you’re agreeing that you intend to use the fireworks
for a legally approved purchase. This is acceptable if you are going to
use them to scare off unwanted animals on your farm or your fish hatchery.
But if you buy them for your own personal fireworks show, then you are
breaking the law.
The waivers are legal for the seller, but they do not make the fireworks
legal for you. Always remember as a general rule, anybody that asks you
to sign a waiver is trying to protect themselves. They are not protecting
you. These waivers protect the seller. They do not magically make these
fireworks legal, and they don’t absolve you.
So what happens if you decide to purchase and use these non-sparkler fireworks
anyway? Under Florida law, use or possession of illegal fireworks is a
first degree misdemeanor. If you are accused of breaking this law, you
will be arrested. If you plead or are tried and found guilty, you can
be sentenced to up to one year in county jail, given up to one year on
probation, and/or fined up to one thousand dollars. Do yourself a favor,
save your money and stay legal. Just go watch a professional firework
display and enjoy the Fourth of July.