Are fireworks legal in California?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Jun 06, 2016 | 0 Comments

It's that time of year again. Every year in June and July, Californians make their 4th of July plans and need to figure out whether California fireworks laws will affect their celebration.

The quick answer to the question of whether fireworks are legal in California is that some fireworks are legal if purchased in a very specific way.

California law distinguishes between:

  • "Safe and sane" fireworks; and
  • "Dangerous" fireworks.

So-called "safe and sane" fireworks may be bought and sold legally in California, but only by someone holding a retail sales license--and ONLY between noon on June 28 and noon on July 6.

"Dangerous" fireworks are illegal for everyone except people who hold special display licenses. Examples of illegal dangerous fireworks include firecrackers, skyrockets, rockets, and sparklers larger than ten inches in length or one-quarter inch in diameter, and fireworks that contain certain chemicals such as arsenic sulfide.

Can you face criminal penalties for violating California's fireworks laws? Absolutely.

Illegal possession of dangerous fireworks is a California misdemeanor. There is also the possibility of felony penalties if you possess large quantities of dangerous fireworks.

You could also be looking at criminal penalties for selling or offering to sell safe and sane fireworks outside of the limited sale period of June 28 to July 6. Furnishing dangerous fireworks to a minor can also lead to misdemeanor penalties.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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