The Danger of Crossing State Lines for July Fourth Fireworks

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By Andrew Leonatti on July 03, 2019 7:00 AM

Almost everyone loves fireworks. They are bright and colorful. They are pretty. They go boom. For most people – whether they are at home or watching a professional display – fireworks are an integral part of any Fourth of July celebration.

Some state governments, however, feel differently about the subject. They only see the dangers of amateur firework displays and put harsh restrictions in place. But that does not stop stores in neighboring states from offering enticing deals (have you ever wondered how fireworks stores can stay in business with buy one, get four free sales?) for people willing to take a short drive across state lines.

State and Federal Laws Are not on Your Side

If you live in a state like Illinois, which prohibits most fireworks, you likely know that a quick trip to Missouri, Indiana, or Iowa will allow you to purchase nearly any type of consumer firework your heart desires.

But most anti-fireworks laws do not just crack down on the sale and purchase of fireworks, they prohibit their possession as well. That means if you cross the border into another state to buy fireworks legally but then try to bring them back into your home state where they are prohibited, police may ticket or arrest you.

Federal law also prohibits the transportation of fireworks into a state where state law prohibits those fireworks.

In fact, the only state where you can feel totally comfortable transporting fireworks across state lines is Ohio. The Buckeye State allows the sale of most consumer fireworks, but requires Ohioans to transport them out of the state within 48 hours of purchase. Those fireworks will be legal to discharge in all surrounding states.   

Leave the Show to the Professionals

The penalties for a violation of your state’s laws will increase in severity depending on whether you simply possessed fireworks, set them off, damaged property, started a wildfire, or injured or killed someone else.  

Remember, even if your local police department typically turns a blind eye to setting off some fireworks around July Fourth, there are no guarantees. The same applies for your safety as well. The best way to avoid any serious fireworks injuries is to enjoy a professional display from a safe distance.

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