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Michigan's Fireworks Safety Act of 2012: An Overview of Prohibited Conduct

Effective January 1st, 2012, the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, Public Act 256 of 2011, legalized the sale and use of consumer fireworks. Prior to the passage of the act, private use of fireworks was illegal and unauthorized users were subject to fines and criminal penalties.  Law enforcement often confiscated several thousands of dollars worth of fireworks each year that were ultimately disposed of without ceremony (e.g. inudating in water, burning, etc.).  Now Michigan residents can purchase and use certain consumer fireworks for private displays provide it is done so at times and places not prohibited by law.

Retailers who meet certain criteria and conditions can apply for and receive a consumer fireworks certificate to legally sell consumer fireworks. The State of Michigan enjoys a revenue windfall by requiring these retailers to collect an addition 6% safety fee on purchases of consumer fireworks (e.g. roman candles, bottle rockets) and low-impact fireworks (e.g. ground sparkling devices). This fee is in addition to the normal 6% sales tax already assessed on this merchandise.  Novelty items such as sparklers, snakes, snaps and poppers are not regulated by the Act and therefore not subject to the 6% safety fee. Large display fireworks are not covered by this Act and will only be allowed by authorizing permits to trained professionals.

The following is a list of prohibited conduct regarding fireworks that can lead to civil or criminal penalties:

  • A person may use fireworks on the day preceding, the day of, or the day after a national holiday. Local governments are permitted to enact and enforce ordinances regulating the use of fireworks at all other times but can only punish violations of these ordinances with a civil fine up to $500.00. MCL 28.457.
  • A person shall not ignite, discharge or use consumer fireworks on public property, school property, church property or the property of another person without that organization's or person's express permission. A person who violates this law is responsible for a civil infraction punishable by a fine up to $500.00. MCL 28.462(1).
  • A person shall not sell consumer fireworks to a minor (a person under 18 years of age). A person who violates this law is responsible for a civil infraction punishable by a fine up to $1,000.00 and will have their consumer fireworks certificate suspended. MCL 28.462(2).
  • A person shall not discharge, ignite or use consumer fireworks or low-impact fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances. A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a fine up to $1,000.00, or both. MCL 28.462(3). However:
  1. If the violation causes damage to the property of another person, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail, or a fine up to $5,000.00, or both.
  2. If the violation causes serious impairment of a body function of another person, a person is guilty of a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison, or a fine up to $5,000.00, or both.
  3. If the violation causes the death of another person, a person is guilty of a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, or a fine up to $10,000.00, or both.
  • A person who violates the smoking prohibitions under NFPA 1124 (National Fire Protection Association regulations) with respect to consumer fireworks is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail or a fine up to $1,000.00, or both. MCL 28.462(4).
  • A person who sells consumer fireworks without obtaining and maintaining a consumer fireworks certificate is guilty of a misdemeanor (MCL 28.454(1)) punishable by up to 2 years incarceration or a fine, or both, with the fine as follows:
  1. First violation - fine up to $5,000.00.
  2. Second violation - fine up to $20,000.00.
  3. Third or subsequent violation - fine up to $40,000.00.
  • A person who fails to collect or remit the fireworks safety fee to the State of Michigan when required to by law is guilty of a misdemeanor (MCL 28.458(4)) punishable by a fine as follows:
  1. First violation - fine up to $10,000.00.
  2. Second violation - fine up to $20,000.00.
  3. Third or subsequent violation - fine up to $40,000.00.

Fireworks certainly make summer events more exciting but they come with legal responsibilities that must be strictly complied with. More importantly, the expansion of fireworks usage also creates more opportunities for severe bodily injuries. The passage of the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act of 2012 was not without its controversy due to these safety concerns, but it is the law of the land.  All Michigan residents are urged to slow down and use common sense when using fireworks to ensure that nobody is accidently hurt.

Have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day!

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