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What Are The Rules For Using And Selling Fireworks In Michigan?

by | Jul 5, 2021 | Criminal Law |

 

Effective January 1, 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 of fireworks each year that were ultimately disposed of without ceremony (e.g. inundating in water, burning, etc.).  Now Michigan residents can purchase and use certain consumer fireworks for private displays provide it is done so in a manner not prohibited by law.  In December 2018, the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act was amended to give local government entities (e.g. villages, townships and cities) the right to restrict the days and times that residents can use consumer fireworks by passing a local ordinance.  However, if there are no local ordinances in your area restricting the use of fireworks, then state law allows you to use them all year around.

The Michigan Fireworks Safety Act does not apply to novelties and local governments are prohibited from passing ordinances that regulate or restrict their use.  MCL 28.453.  “Novelties” include all of the following:

  • “Toy plastic or paper caps for toy pistols in sheets, strips, rolls, or individual caps containing not more than .25 of a grain of explosive content per cap, in packages labeled to indicate the maximum explosive content per cap.” MCL 28.452(w)(i).
  • “Toy pistols, toy cannons, toy canes, toy trick noisemakers, and toy guns in which toy caps as described in subparagraph (i) are used, that are constructed so that the hand cannot come in contact with the cap when in place for the explosion, and that are not designed to break apart or be separated so as to form a missile by the explosion.” MCL 28.452(w)(ii).
  • “Flitter sparklers in paper tubes not exceeding 1/8 inch in diameter.” MCL 28.452(w)(iii).
  • “Toy snakes not containing mercury, if packed in cardboard boxes with not more than 12 pieces per box for retail sale and if the manufacturer’s name and the quantity contained in each box are printed on the box, and toy smoke devices.” MCL 28.452(w)(iv).

 

USE OF FIREWORKS

“A local unit of government shall not enact or enforce an ordinance, code, or regulation pertaining to or in any manner regulating the sale, display, storage, transportation, or distribution of fireworks” except as provided by the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act.  MCL 28.457(1).  A local unit of government may enact an ordinance regulating the ignition, discharge, and use of consumer fireworks, including, but not limited to, an ordinance prescribing the hours of the day or night during which a person may ignite, discharge, or use consumer fireworks.  MCL 28.457(2).  If a local unit of government enacts such an ordinance, it SHALL NOT regulate the ignition, discharge, or use of consumer fireworks on the following days after 11 a.m.:

  • (a) December 31 until 1 a.m. on January 1.
  • (b) The Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Memorial Day until 11:45 p.m. on each of those days.
  • (c) June 29 to July 4 until 11:45 p.m. on each of those days.
  • (d) July 5, if that date is a Friday or Saturday, until 11:45 p.m.
  • (e) The Saturday and Sunday immediately preceding Labor Day until 11:45 p.m. on each of those days.

If there is an ordinance restricting the ignition, discharge or use of consumer fireworks, the penalty is a civil fine of $1,000.00 for each violation.  MCL 28.457(3).  Here is a list of other prohibited conduct related to the sale or use of fireworks that can lead to civil or criminal penalties:

  • 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 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 responsible for a civil infraction punishable by a fine up to $1,000.00, or both. MCL 28.462(3). However:
    • 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. MCL 28.468(1)(b).
    • 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. MCL 28.468(1)(c).
    • 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. MCL 28.468(1)(d).
  • A person who violates the smoking prohibitions under NFPA 1124 (National Fire Protection Association regulations) with respect to consumer fireworks is responsible for a civil infraction punishable by a fine up to $1,000.00. MCL 28.462(4).  Signing that states the smoking prohibition satisfies the requirements of the NFPA.  MCL 28.462(5).
  • A person shall not ignite, discharge, or use consumer fireworks or low-impact fireworks in a manner that is intended to harass, scare, or injure livestock.  MCL 28.462(6).  A violation of this provision can result in a misdemeanor conviction punishable by a fine up to $1,000.00 or up to 30 days in jail, or both.  MCL 28.468(1)(a).

 

SALE OF FIREWORKS

A person shall not sell consumer fireworks unless the person annually obtains and maintains a consumer fireworks certificate from the State of Michigan.  MCL 28.454(1).  A person who fails or neglects to comply is responsible for a civil fine as follows:

  • First violation – Up to $5,000.00. MCL 28.454(2)(a).
  • Second violation – Up to $20,000.00. MCL 28.454(2)(b).
  • Third or subsequent violation – Up to $40,000.00. MCL 28.454(2)(c).

The holder of a consumer fireworks certificate shall prominently display the original certificate or a copy of the certificate in the each retail location to which the certificate applies.  MCL 28.454(9).  A person who violates this rule is responsible for a civil fine of $200.00.

A person shall not sell consumer fireworks from a retail location unless that location complies with the NFPA, that location has an adequate fire suppression system (e.g. automatic sprinkler system), the retailer is licensed under the General Sales Tax Act, and the retailer has a valid federal taxpayer identification number (unless a sole proprietorship).  MCL 28.455(1).  A retailer who fails or neglects to comply with these requirements is responsible for a fine up to $2,500.00 for EACH DAY that the retailer is in noncompliance.  MCL 28.455(2). 

The retailer shall provide with every purchase of consumer fireworks a notice listing the dates and times permitted under this act for the ignition, discharge, and use of consumer fireworks. The notice shall begin with the following statement: “State law permits, under MCL 28.457, the ignition, discharge, and use of consumer fireworks at the following times:”. The retailer may provide the notice in a form and manner determined by the retailer, including, but not limited to, printing or stamping the notice on, or affixing the notice to, a receipt, bag, or the product being purchased, or a printed handout provided at the time of purchase.  MCL 28.455(4).  A retailer who fails or neglects to comply with these requirements is responsible for a fine up to $100.00 for EACH DAY that the retailer violates this provision.

A person shall not engage in the retail sale of consumer fireworks over the telephone, internet, or other like manner unless the consumer fireworks are picked up or shipped from a permanent location for which the person holds a valid consumer fireworks certificate.  MCL 28.455(5).  A violation of this provision can result in a misdemeanor conviction punishable by a fine up to $1,000.00 or up to 30 days in jail, or both.  MCL 28.468(1)(a).

The State of Michigan enjoys a revenue windfall by requiring these retailers to collect an addition 6% fireworks safety fee on purchases of consumer fireworks (e.g. roman candles, bottle rockets) and low-impact fireworks (e.g. ground sparkling devices). MCL 28.458(1).  This fee is in addition to the normal 6% sales tax already assessed on this merchandise.  The retailer is responsible for collecting this fee and remitting it to the state treasury.  MCL 28.458(2).  A person who fails to collect or remit the fireworks safety fee to the State of Michigan when required to by law is responsible for a civil infraction punishable by a fine as follows:

  • First violation – Up to $5,000.00. MCL 28.458(4)(a), MCL 28.460(4)(a).
  • Second violation – Up to $20,000.00. MCL 28.458(4)(b), MCL 28.460(4)(b).
  • Third or subsequent violation – Up to $40,000.00. MCL 28.458(4)(c), MCL 28.460(4)(c).

Finally, a person cannot sell consumer fireworks to a minor.  MCL 28.462(2).  A person who violates this provision is subject to the following penalties:

  • First violation – A civil fine up to $1,000.00.
  • Second or subsequent violation – A civil fine up to $2,500.00 and that person’s consumer fireworks certificate is suspended for 90 days beginning on the date that the civil fine is ordered.

 

PERSONS INELIGIBLE TO OBTAIN CONSUMER FIREWORKS CERTIFICATES

A person that is found responsible for any of the following is ineligible, beginning on the date of the finding, to obtain a consumer fireworks certificate for the period of time indicated:

  • 5 years for a second violation of selling consumer fireworks without a consumer fireworks certificate contrary to MCL 28.454(1). MCL 28.468c(1)(a).
  • 10 years for a third or subsequent violation of selling consumer fireworks without a consumer fireworks certificate contrary to MCL 28.454(1). MCL 28.468c(1)(b).
  • 1 year for a first violation of failing to collect or remit the fireworks safety fee when required by MCL 28.458(4). MCL 28.468c(1)(c).
  • 5 year for a second violation of failing to collect or remit the fireworks safety fee when required by MCL 28.458(4). MCL 28.468c(1)(d).
  • 10 year for a third or subsequent violation of failing to collect or remit the fireworks safety fee when required by MCL 28.458(4). MCL 28.468c(1)(e).
  • 1 year for any violation of the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act that causes damage to the property of another person contrary to MCL 28.468(1)(b). MCL 28.468c(1)(f).
  • Permanently ineligible for any violation of the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act that causes serious impairment of a body function of another person contrary to MCL 28.468(1)(c). MCL 28.468c(1)(g).
  • Permanently ineligible for any violation of the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act that causes the death of another person contrary to MCL 28.468(1)(d). MCL 28.468c(1)(h).

In addition, the State of Michigan will not issue a consumer fireworks certificate to a person that has an outstanding fine issued under the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act that is not currently under appeal.  MCL 28.454(10)(b).

 

CONDUCT NOT PROHIBITED BY THE MICHIGAN FIREWORKS SAFETY ACT

Unless otherwise specified by law, the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act does not prohibit any of the following:

  • “A wholesaler, retailer, commercial manufacturer, or importer from selling, storing, using, transporting, or distributing consumer fireworks or low-impact fireworks.” MCL 28.467(a).
  • “The use of fireworks by railroads or other transportation agencies or law enforcement agencies for signal purposes or illumination.” MCL 28.467(b).
  • “The use of agricultural or wildlife fireworks.” MCL 28.467(c).
  • The sale or use of blank cartridges for a show or play, for signal or ceremonial purposes in athletics or sports, for use by military organizations, or for use by law enforcement agencies.  MCL 28.467(d).
  • “The possession, sale, or disposal of fireworks incidental to the public display of fireworks by wholesalers or other persons who possess a permit to possess, store, or sell explosives from the bureau of alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives of the United States Department of Justice.” MCL 28.467(e).
  • “Interstate wholesalers from selling, storing, using, transporting, or distributing fireworks.” MCL 28.467(f).
  • “A person from parking a motor vehicle, or trailer, that is not being used for the storage of consumer fireworks, within 10 feet of a permanent building or structure used in the retail sale of consumer fireworks.” MCL 28.467(g).

 

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 and death. The passage of the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act was not without its controversy due to these safety concerns.  All Michigan residents are urged to slow down and use common sense when using fireworks to ensure that nobody gets hurt.

If you or a loved one has any questions about Michigan’s Fireworks Safety Act or need legal representation, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.

 

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