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Are Fireworks Legal in North Carolina?

The Fourth of July holiday may be officially over, but that has not stopped the sale of fireworks throughout the state. In fact, many people visit fireworks stands to purchase more goods in advance of other summer celebrations and next year’s festivities. This begs an important question: Are sales of these fireworks legal? Which laws govern the sale and use of firecrackers and other combustibles in North Carolina? Learn the rules and restrictions regarding fireworks use and how to remain in compliance with state law. If you have any further questions or were charged with a crime and need legal assistance, consult a skilled Raleigh criminal defense attorney.

What Fireworks Are Legal in North Carolina?

North Carolina allows citizens to purchase and use certain types of combustibles and fireworks, and throughout certain times of the year. In general, North Carolina law only allows citizens to use and set off fireworks that do not explode or leave the ground. Specifically, the North Carolina fireworks laws allow for fireworks and combustibles that create visual displays and sound effects without detonation. Examples of legal fireworks under state law include:

  • Fountains
  • Dipped sticks
  • Glow worms
  • Sparklers
  • Illuminating devices
  • Noisemakers
  • Tube devices
  • Snappers

As a general guideline, fireworks in North Carolina cannot spin, leave the ground, explode, or fly. Anything that does any of the preceding actions is an illegal firework under North Carolina law and could leave a person vulnerable to criminal prosecution.

Illegal Fireworks in North Carolina

State law also specifically prohibits the use of certain kinds of fireworks. Examples of fireworks that explode or leave the ground include:

  • Roman candles
  • Rockets
  • M-80s
  • Cherry bombs
  • Mortars
  • Firecrackers

Essentially, anything that leaves the ground constitutes an illegal firework and a person who violates these laws may face criminal charges.

What Is the Punishment for Using Illegal Fireworks in North Carolina?

Local law enforcement agencies hold the jurisdiction for maintaining order and enforcing the laws governing fireworks use throughout the state. North Carolina General Statutes state that anyone who purchases or uses an illegal firework could face penalties for a misdemeanor, with fines up to $500 and up to six months imprisonment in a county jail.

A person may face more serious charges when he or she uses fireworks recklessly, causing injury or property damage. In this instance, a person may be required to pay restitution for any property damage or injuries that he or she proximally causes from reckless conduct.

Using Fireworks Safely

North Carolina sets strict laws on the use and ignition of fireworks, but some people still visit neighboring South Carolina to purchase and use illegal fireworks. This can not only lead to fine and prison time but present a risk of injury. Instead of spending the money on illegal fireworks, visit a professional display, with experienced, qualified people setting off exploding fireworks with a valid permit.

Citizens who choose to purchase legal fireworks and create their own displays should observe the following safety tips and guidelines:

  • Even legal fireworks can present a risk of injury to those who use them. Never allow children to handle or set off fireworks. Never set off fireworks under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • Never alter fireworks.
  • Wear form-fitting clothing when igniting fireworks – never wear anything loose or baggy.
  • Do not carry fireworks in pockets.
  • Never attempt to set off fireworks in bottles or other containers.
  • Always have a hose or a bucket of water handy in case of emergency.
  • Always light fireworks on a paved, even surface – never on grass.
  • Pay attention to the local news about drought conditions and additional restrictions regarding fireworks use.

Fireworks can be a fun way to enhance summer celebrations, but it’s essential for every citizen to comply with state laws to have a safe holiday.