June 28, 2017
Fourth of July parties are a great time for family and friends to come together and celebrate our country’s independence. But before you get out the sparklers after your cookout, it’s a good idea to go over Indiana’s various laws about fireworks.
Types of Fireworks
In Indiana, fireworks are classified into three different types:
Consumer: Consumer fireworks, also referred to as 1.4G fireworks, are identified as aerial devices, ground audible devices, or some combination of the two. Examples of aerial devices include sky rockets, aerial spinners, or roman candles. Probably the best known example of a ground audible device is a firecracker.
Sec 8(a): Sec 8(a) fireworks include many popular varieties of fireworks, such as:
- Smoke devices
- Ground spinners
- Snakes or glow worms
- Party poppers
Special Fireworks: Special fireworks, also referred to as 1.3G fireworks, require a permit from the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. You must have a permit before you purchase these types of fireworks.
For more information about the different types of fireworks, click here.
Fireworks Laws: Who, When, and Where
Who: To purchase fireworks of any kind or to sell consumer fireworks, you must be at least 18 years old. To sell Sec 8(a) fireworks, you must be at least 16 years old. Anyone under 18 can only use fireworks if an adult is present.
When: Fireworks can be used between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. on days that are not holidays. From June 29 to July 3 and July 5 to July 9, you can use fireworks from 5 p.m. to two hours after sunset.
For holidays (including Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and New Year’s Eve), the window of time is changed from 10 a.m. to midnight.
Where: You can only use fireworks legally in three places:
- On your own property
- On the property of another person who has given their permission for you to use fireworks
- At a special discharge location, which is a location designated by local authorities for the use of fireworks
Although those are Indiana’s state laws, you may also be subject to local laws regarding use of fireworks. Be sure to double-check any local laws that may affect how you choose to use fireworks this Fourth of July.
Penalties for Misuse of Fireworks
Indiana fireworks laws include six different kinds of infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies you may be charged with if you misuse fireworks. It’s important to know the type of punishment you may face if you are charged with illegally using or obtaining fireworks.
1. Class C Infraction
Any person who either:
- Uses consumer fireworks at a site other than their own property, the property of a person who has given their permission, or a special discharge location
- Uses a firework outside of the legal times to do so
- Uses a consumer firework even though they are under 18 and no adult is present
Punishment: Up to $500 per infraction
2. Class C Misdemeanor
Any person who, more than once in five years, recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally:
- Uses a consumer firework at a site other than the three you are legally allowed to do so
- Uses a consumer firework outside of the legal times to do so
Punishment: Up to 60 days in prison and a fine up to $500 per infraction
3. Delinquent Act
Any minor who, more than once in five years, uses a consumer firework without an adult present.
Punishment: Dependent on each individual case
4. Class A Misdemeanor
Any person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally uses consumer fireworks and damages someone’s property.
Punishment: Up to 1 year of prison and a fine up to $5,000
5. Level 6 Felony
A person who recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally uses consumer fireworks and seriously injuries a person.
Punishment: 6 months to 2.5 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
6. Level 5 Felony
A person whose reckless, knowing, or intentional use of consumer fireworks results in the death of a person.
Punishment: 1 to 6 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000
Safety Tips for Using Fireworks This Fourth of July
A list of possible penalties for misusing fireworks may have scared you from ever holding a sparkler again, but we hope that’s not the case. At Hensley Legal Group, we love a good light show as much as the next person. We just want our readers to know the risks of using fireworks and to have a safe experience for Fourth of July.
With that in mind, here are some safety tips to make sure your fireworks show is as safe as it is dazzling:
Be Prepared: Read the labels on your fireworks before you use them. Be sure you know how they’re expected to go off and any precautions you should take when lighting them. Make sure you have an easily accessible water source nearby in case things go south.
Be Smart: Use fireworks in a clear area, away from houses and cars and especially any flammable materials. Do your firework show before you start drinking, not after. Ignite one firework at a time, and move far away quickly after you light it.
If a firework appears to be a dud, don’t relight it—wait at least 20 minutes before approaching it, and soak it in water as an extra precaution to make sure it doesn’t go off by accident. The same goes for used fireworks: douse them in water and keep them far away from anything flammable until the next day, when you can discard them.
Never experiment with homemade fireworks. Only use fireworks sold by a licensed retailer.
Be Considerate: If you have pets, keep them inside in an interior room to deaden the noise of the fireworks. Never light fireworks if pets are outside—not only could they be injured, but they could also try to run away from the noise.
Consider your neighbors as well. Although you are allowed to light fireworks until midnight on the Fourth of July, if your neighbors have young children or nervous pets, consider ending your fireworks display early or hosting it at another property (assuming you have permission from the property owner) that’s farther away from anyone who might be disturbed by the noise.