Examining Ohio Law: Fireworks

Criminal Defense

July 3, 2012

With Independence Day tomorrow, a lot of questions have been floating around about Ohio’s laws regarding the purchase and use of fireworks. Ohio has strict laws as to what types of fireworks can be set off and by who. Failure to adhere to these laws can result in stiff penalties, including fines and potential jail time.

Lawful Fireworks

Section 3743.01 of the Ohio Revised Code states that the only types of fireworks that may be lawfully set off by unlicensed individuals are “novelty” and “trick” fireworks such as:

  1. Devices that produce a small report intended to surprise the user, including, but not limited to, booby traps, cigarette loads, party poppers, and snappers.
  2. Snakes or glow worms.
  3. Smoke devices.
  4. Trick matches.

Unlawful Fireworks

Ohio law classifies firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, etc. as “consumer fireworks” that may be purchased from a licensed retailer, but not discharged by unlicensed individuals in Ohio. These fireworks are regulated as “1.4G Fireworks” by the U.S. Department of Transportation under Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

Consumer fireworks must be transported to another state within 48 hours of purchase if the buyer is an Ohio resident and 72 hours if the buyer is not an out-of-state resident. To purchase consumer fireworks, the buyer must be over the age of 18 and agree to sign a form stating that he or she will transport the fireworks outside of Ohio within the prescribed time limits.

Ohio law prohibits the possession or discharge of items classified as “explosive devices” such as M80’s and cherry bombs without a license. These “explosive devices” are defined by the criminal code sections of the Ohio Revised Code, specifically Section 2923.11, which establishes definitions for weapons.

Professional Fireworks Displays

Professional fireworks displays, involving “1.3G Fireworks”, may only discharged by a licensed exhibitor with a local permit, which has been approved by the fire chief and police chief. The site for the fireworks show must be inspected and approved using an Ohio Fire Marshal checklist. According to the Fireworks & Explosive Unit of the Ohio State Fire Marshal, approximately 504 fireworks exhibitor licenses have been issued in Ohio.

Criminal Penalties For Illegal Use/Possession Of Fireworks

Illegal possession and/or use of fireworks is usually classified as a first-degree misdemeanor under Ohio law, carrying a maximum penalty of six months in jail and fine of $1,000. Subsequent offenses may be increased to fifth degree felonies, carrying a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of $2,500.

The experienced attorneys of DiCaudo, Pitchford & Yoder have extensive experience defending against both misdemeanor and felony charges. For legal advice or information regarding Ohio’s fireworks laws, contact, the attorneys at DiCaudo, Pitchford & Yoder today.