The 4th of July is a uniquely American celebration, reminding people of freedom, apple pie, and fireworks. Although many people love to hold their own fireworks displays, most don’t know the laws surrounding fireworks in Maryland. Not knowing could result in a hefty fine – that’s why we at Carey Law Office want to prevent your holiday from going up in flames.
What Fireworks are Legal?
Maryland’s fireworks laws are very confusing, differing by county. The State allows only the use of gold label sparklers (like hand-held sparklers, party poppers, and snakes) and ground-based sparklers (fountains). Illegal fireworks are explosives and combustibles – like Roman candles, firecrackers, aerial fireworks, and skyrockets. Oddly enough, in most areas (except Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Baltimore City) you can possess illegal fireworks as long as you don’t intend to use or resell them; possession with intent to use or distribute is illegal.
While most counties follow the State’s fireworks laws, some areas have placed further restrictions on fireworks – and some made all fireworks illegal. Harford County, Howard County, and Ocean City banned ground-based sparklers; Montgomery County banned all fireworks except party poppers, snakes, and snap-n-pop noise makers; and Prince George’s County and Baltimore City outlawed all fireworks. Exceptions are only allowed if the State Fire Marshall grants a permit for municipalities or other organizations holding large fireworks displays.
Contrary to popular belief, it is illegal to buy fireworks in another state and transport them back to Maryland. Although some fireworks vendors cater to out-of-state customers, it is unlawful to transport them into Maryland where such fireworks would not be legal. This law also applies to transportation of fireworks between counties.
I Have Illegal Fireworks…Do I Need a Lawyer?
Possession of illegal fireworks can result in a fine ranging from $250 to $500 per firework, depending on the county in which you are charged. Selling illegal fireworks or selling to children under age 16 is punishable by a $1,000 fine per firework.
Fortunately, Prince George’s County, Montgomery County, and Baltimore City offer a Fireworks Amnesty program. The fire department encourages people to report their fireworks, and firemen will confiscate them without penalty. This program goes into effect two weeks before and two weeks after the 4th of July (this year, June 20 – July 18).
Being charged with possession and/or distribution of fireworks is a different story. These misdemeanors – criminal citations that go on your record – mean that you will receive a fine and have a court date. Although you can’t go to jail for these offenses, you can go to jail if you miss your court date. Simply put, you need a Maryland defense lawyer to represent you so you can fully exercise all of your rights. A lawyer can help you avoid a conviction so you can protect your record (especially if you have no prior criminal record). Keep in mind that this particular misdemeanor could dramatically affect your bank account and your future job opportunities.
Need Legal Help?
If you have been charged with possession and/or distribution of fireworks, don’t take a chance; contact Carey Law Office, LLC at (301) 464-2500. We have been handling criminal citations such as this for over 30 years, and we have an excellent reputation for a reason. Call to schedule your free initial consultation today – we’ll get you through this.