With the 4th of July quickly approaching, in addition to attending community firework displays, many people enjoy purchasing and shooting off their own fireworks. The laws governing fireworks in Ohio are among the most restrictive in the country. Because fireworks are readily available for purchase and use in nearby states, many Ohio residents assume Ohio has similar laws and are not well informed on the issue.
The purpose of this article is to provide a few highlights of the Ohio laws governing consumer fireworks. For further information, please consult Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Chapter 3743, the Ohio Fire Code (OFC) 1301:7-7-56, and the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of State Fire Marshall.
Consumer fireworks are referred in Ohio law as “1.4G Fireworks”. These are fireworks that may be found in a licensed fireworks showroom and sold to the public at various retail locations across Ohio. If you choose to purchase 1.4G fireworks, you have 48 hours to take the fireworks out of Ohio. Purchasers must sign a form stating the destination to which the fireworks will be taken. The only items that can be used in Ohio are designated “trick and novelty” which smoke, pop, and/or sparkle. In Ohio, use of 1.4G fireworks (firecrackers, bottle rockets, etc.) is illegal.
M80’s, M100’s, quarter sticks and similar devices are considered under Ohio law to be explosive devices – not fireworks. To be categorized as a 1.4G firework, the device can contain no more than 50 milligrams of powder. Because these devices are categorized as explosives, it is illegal for anyone to possess them without a special license and/or permit.
Several types of 1.4G fireworks are “exempt” and permitted to be used by consumers within Ohio. These include toy pistols, toy canes, toy guns, novelties, trick noisemakers, and sparklers on a wire stick. Below are several additional products that are exempt under Ohio law:
PUNK: Jump punk 19”, Punk 10 /2”, Punk bag
SMOKE ITEMS: #3 smoke cone, Baby smoke cone bag, Cap stick no report, Color smoke balls, Color smoke balls with header, Colored smoke cracker, Giant smoke missile, Hand grenade smoke, M-80 smoke, Mammoth extra large smoke, Smoke cartridge, Smoke pot, Smoke screen tube, Smoking battleship, Smoking fountain, White smoke balls with header
SNAKES: Black snakes, Colored snakes, Glow worms, All snakes, Snakes (assorted)
SNAPS & TOY TRICK NOVELTIES: Auto foolers with no report, Auto foolers with report, Bat snaps, Bobby traps, Chinese fun snaps, Cigarette loads, Fun snaps, Ghost & bat snaps, Ghost bomb snaps, Gravity pack-snaps, Magnum poppers, Party poppers (flame proof), Trick bank matches
SPARKLERS: #8 color sparklers, #8 gold sparklers USA, #8 gold sparkers, #8 party sparklers, #10 color sparklers, #10 gold sparklers USA, #14 gold sparklers USA, #20 gold sparklers USA, #36 gold sparklers USA
“Non-exempted fireworks 1.4G” (UN0336) are the type of fireworks, described above, that can be purchased in Ohio from a licensed wholesaler, must be transported out of Ohio within 48 hours, and cannot be discharged in Ohio. Examples of “non-exempted 1.4G fireworks include: Parachutes, Pin wheels, Plans, Repeaters, Roman candles, Shells, Skyrockets, Tubes, Chasers, and Morning Glories.
Revised Code section 3743.63 provides criminal penalties for those individuals who violate Ohio law regarding the possession and use 1.4G fireworks. A first violation of this law is a misdemeanor of the first degree, and punishable by up to 180 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Depending on the circumstances of the violation, other criminal charges are available to law enforcement as well.
A bill passed by the Ohio House of Representatives (Ohio House Bill 226) in October 2017 seeks to eliminate the requirement that purchasers of 1.4G fireworks transport those fireworks out of Ohio within 48 hours and would permit those consumers authorized to possess such fireworks to discharge them on their own property or with the property owner’s permission. There would be a number of safety-related restrictions. The bill is presently being considered by the Ohio Senate. If passed, the new law would be effective July 1, 2020.
If you find yourself in violation of the Ohio laws governing fireworks, contact Criminal Defense Attorney Jonathan A. Horwitz. Horwitz & Horwitz, LLC, is located in Centerville, Ohio and serves clients throughout Southwest Ohio. Have a safe and happy July 4th!