In the wake of celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve, it is ideal to ask yourself one single question, especially as a new California folk: Are Sparklers Illegal In California?
This question is one that needs the utmost legal response. As such, we are here to provide you with the most appropriate answer.
In 1973, California passed the State Fireworks Law. The state categorizes items that meet the requirements as “fireworks,” stipulates who may acquire or sell them, and specifies where and when they may be set off under this law.
Even though state law allows specific sales and uses of fireworks, municipalities, and counties within the province may enact their own fireworks ordinances.
Local ordinances may prohibit or restrict fireworks’ sale, use, or release. For more information, consult your local laws or the city or county website. (Health and Safety Code 12500 and subsequent (2020).)
What Are Considered Fireworks?
Under California law, “fireworks” include any instrument that:
- contains chemical elements that do not require oxygen to burn (which regular combustible items require), and
- produces audible, visual, mechanical, or thermal pyrotechnic effects for entertainment.
Skyrockets, roman candles, rockets, sparklers, party poppers, paper caps, fountains, and smoke bombs are listed in the law as examples of fireworks. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 12511 (2020).)
Private individuals not certified by the state to release explosives are explicitly forbidden from owning and releasing (and retailers from selling) specific fireworks designated as “dangerous” by state law. Dangerous fireworks include the following:
- any that contain arsenic sulfide, arsenates, or arsenites, boron, chlorates, gallates or gallic acid, magnesium, mercury salts, phosphorous, picrates or picric acid, thiocyanates, titanium, or zirconium
- Skyrockets and rockets (anything that shoots up and explodes)
- Roman candles and anything that discharges a ball of fire into the air.
- chasers (anything that darts or travels along the ground during discharge).
- sparklers more than 10 inches in length or one-fourth of an inch in diameter.
- Fireworks are designed and intended by the manufacturer to create the element of surprise upon the user (the exploding cigar is a classic example)
- torpedoes of all kinds that explode on impact
- fireworks kits, and
- other fireworks designated as unsafe by the State Fire Marshal.
(Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 12505, 12677 (2020).)
Federal Law and Interstate Transportation
The federal government makes it illegal to carry fireworks across state borders to a state where any use is prohibited (commercial transport is exempt from this prohibition). A violation is punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine. (18 U.S.C. § 836 (2020).)
If you are caught crossing the state line with something like a box of fireworks purchased in Nevada, you are subject to federal and state laws governing the transportation of fireworks.
Special Effects and Public Displays
On the Fourth of July, cities and private groups host public fireworks displays (and other occasions). State law designates explicitly and requires permits for these events. This kind of authorized public event could include the discharge of dangerous fireworks by licensed operators.
And George Lucas could blow up the Golden Gate Bridge—not literally. Still, with a state permit, he and others can utilize “pyrotechnic devices” to bring forth special effects for theatrical, film, television, or other creations, including those in front of a live audience. (Health and Safety Code 12575 to 12577 (2020).)
No Discharge in Certain Areas
California law prohibits possessing threatening fireworks where there is a reasonable possibility that the discharge will harm another person or persons. It is also illegal to ignite fireworks to cause turmoil, fear, or panic in others. (Health and Safety Code 12680 (2020).)
Launching fireworks within 100 feet of a place containing fuel or any other flammable liquid is also illegal. (Health and Safety Code 12679 (2020).)
Conclusion: Are Sparklers Illegal In California
We believe we’ve done justice to the question you posed to us from the foregoing; Are sparklers illegal in California. Any further inquiries, don’t forget to use the comment box.