Q&A of the Day – If fireworks are illegal in Florida, why can you buy them & use them?
Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
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Today’s entry: You struck a nerve when you talked about inconsiderate people setting off fireworks at all times of night. In my neighborhood they’ve been going off late every night this week! If fireworks aren’t legal in Florida, why can they buy them and why doesn’t anyone do anything to stop these RUDE people?
Bottom Line: This question and semi-rant, was on back of a bit of a rant of my own. I expressed frustration with people setting off fireworks Wednesday night, in what was almost like a second coming of the fireworks set off on for the New Year’s celebration. Clearly, it’s not an isolated incident in South Florida. This would be an annoyance anytime you’re trying to sleep but especially if you have an early start to a workday as many of us did and do. You asked an especially effectual question. It’s not just that it’s illegal to set off any airborne explosives without a permit in Florida, it’s illegal to sell them. If it’s illegal to sell them, why does it happen?
First, “non-aerial” and “non-explosive" fireworks are legal for anyone to buy at any time. This provides a basis of legitimacy for the industry statewide. Still, it’s not handheld sparklers that are causing you to wake up late at night. It’s real deal fireworks. So how are they being legally sold to Floridians? A loophole or two in Florida law and often dishonesty by customers.
There are three exceptions to Florida’s ban on aerial and explosive fireworks. Permitted events, military application or agricultural exemption. The way sellers commonly thwart Florida’s law to sell generally illegal fireworks to people who shouldn’t have them, through waivers. Sellers will commonly have waivers, which must be signed by customers, attesting to legal use. The sellers are absolved of responsibility because customers are pledging to lawfully use them. Of course, customers buying restricted fireworks often lie about their intended use by signing those waivers. From there, it’s a matter of local enforcement.
It’s not hard to spot or hear illegally used fireworks. The question, like many laws on the books, is whether they’re enforced. As you and I have witnessed. Commonly not. But it’s not just about the fireworks. Local noise ordinances may often come into play as well. Aside from municipal restrictions, which may be more restrictive than county standards, all of South Florida restricts noise at night and early mornings.
- Broward: 10pm to 7am
- Miami-Dade: 11pm to 7am
- Palm Beach: 8pm to 7am
So, if you’re surrounded by inconsiderate neighbors who continue to wake you up at night... You’re well within your right to report it to the police. When fireworks are involved there are likely multiple violations of law taking place.