Are Fireworks Legal In California?

With the Fourth of July 2023 rapidly approaching, many look forward to commemorating our nation’s birth with a bang. Nothing quite marks this celebration like fireworks illuminating the night sky. But before setting off those rockets and fountains, you may ponder, “Are fireworks legal in California?”

Answering this question is crucial to ensure your celebrations are filled with color and excitement and safe and within the boundaries of the law. Ignorance of the law can lead to hefty penalties or, worse, dangerous situations. This article aims to demystify California’s fireworks regulations and help you enjoy Independence Day celebrations safely and responsibly!

Fireworks Accidents

Figures from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in 2022 underline the seriousness of this issue. A staggering 10,200 individuals found themselves in emergency rooms due to fireworks-related injuries. Worse still, 11 people lost their lives in incidents linked to fireworks.

An overwhelming 73% of these injuries occurred in the weeks leading up to and following the Fourth of July. These statistics emphasize the pressing need to exercise caution and respect for the potential dangers of fireworks during this peak period. Furthermore, severe burns accounted for 38% of these injuries, indicating the serious physical harm fireworks can inflict when not handled correctly. These burns often result in long-term damage, sometimes requiring extensive treatment and causing permanent disfigurement.

People also tend to use fireworks during weekends and holidays, potentially in group settings. Leisure activities like this can endanger multiple lives at once, including innocent bystanders. Youth users may not have the same level of judgment, experience, or physical capability to handle emergency situations as adults. Therefore, any firework accident becomes exponentially more dangerous!

California Fireworks Laws

Before we address the main question, “Are fireworks legal in California?” we need to establish what constitutes fireworks in the Golden State.

“Fireworks” means any device containing chemical elements
and chemical compounds capable of burning independently
of the oxygen of the atmosphere and producing audible,
visual, mechanical, or thermal effects which are useful as
pyrotechnic devices or for entertainment.

The term “fireworks” includes, but is not limited to, devices
designated by the manufacturer as fireworks, torpedoes,
skyrockets, roman candles, rockets, Daygo bombs,
sparklers, party poppers, paper caps, chasers, fountains,
smoke sparks, aerial bombs, and fireworks kits.

California Health and Safety Code 12511

Certain types of fireworks are allowed. However, this is not a blanket approval. Fireworks must be classified as “Safe and Sane” by the State Fire Marshal and bear the official logo. “Safe and Sane” fireworks are less dangerous because they do not explode or shoot high into the air.

Fireworks that explode, leave, or move about the ground uncontrollably are generally classified as dangerous and are not permitted for use by the general public. These include many of the popular fireworks in American cultures, like:

  • Firecrackers
  • Lady Fingers
  • M-80s
  • Roman Candles
  • Bottle Rockets

Because these devices have an exploding component, they are not legal for consumers to use in California. To qualify as “Safe and Sane,” fireworks must not explode, fly, or dart across the ground. Items such as sparklers, snaps, smoke balls, fountains, and strobes usually fall into this category instead.

Legal Penalties

Even if you are someone who can quickly answer the question, “Are fireworks legal in California?” you may not know the legal penalties. California law is strict on the misuse of fireworks. Illegal use or possession of fireworks can result in thousands of dollars in fines or jail time.

A person who possesses a gross weight, including packaging, of less than 25 pounds of unaltered dangerous fireworks, as defined in Section 12505, is guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500) or more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in the county jail for not exceeding one year, or both that fine and imprisonment.

Upon a second or subsequent conviction, a person shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year or by both that fine and imprisonment.

California Health and Safety Code 12700

Fines and jail time subsequently increase based on the amount of fireworks found in your possession. Not to mention, a loud and obnoxious at-home fireworks show could lead to other penalties like noise violations and property damage. The Los Angeles County Fire Department put together a comprehensive list of local fireworks laws for everyone to brush up on.

Closing Words

Answering the essential question, “Are fireworks legal in California?” helps everyone understand the law and accomplish the ultimate goal of having a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July celebration. Fireworks can add a touch of magic to these celebrations. And while certain types of “Safe and Sane” fireworks are legal in California, it is important to be mindful of when and where to use them.

Always respect local laws and regulations; remember that safety should be your top priority when using fireworks. Deldar Legal represents victims of fireworks accidents and can help you handle the legal aftermath of a tense situation. Contact us online or call (844) 335-3271 for a free case evaluation and speak with one of our experienced attorneys.

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