Fireworks get the OK in Georgia! Buying and selling fireworks legally is now a reality within the state of Georgia. House Bill 110, passed in both the House and Senate and received the Governor's signature on May 5, 2015, law.
Effective July 1, 2015 you will be able to purchase fireworks legally within Georgia. The law amended several Georgia Code sections dealing with the sale, purchase, and use of fireworks. The law altered the longstanding traditional drive of many Georgians to the state line to purchase fireworks.
What is a firework under the law?
The term Firework is defined under federal law. The old Georgia law limited the sale of fireworks to wire or wood sparklers, glow sticks, noise makers, poppers, snappers, and drop pops. The new definition is much broader and more inclusive. It covers any small fireworks device which is intended to cause a visible or audible effect by combustion, explosion, deflagration, or detonation, including blank cartridges, firecrackers, torpedos, skyrockets, bombs, sparklers, and other combustibles and explosions of like construction.
Things you need to know if considering selling fireworks from a permanent location:
The new Georgia Fireworks Law sets forth the process for beginning a firework distribution business. Licenses to sell fireworks are issued by the Fire Department of the governmental area in which the firework store will be located. There are several requirements that must be met in order to receive a license. A distributor must have at least $2 million in liability insurance to cover any potential damage caused by the fireworks. An initial fee of $5,000 must be paid to the Safety Fire Commissioner. The license fee is reduced to $1,000 for each additional year a seller wishes to renew their license. For sellers that wish to open a chain of firework stores, this $5,000 and $1,000 fee only has to be paid once, for the business, and not for every store. These licenses expire on January 31 on the year after the license was issued. The law does not allow for renewal applications for licenses more than 30 days preceding the expiration of a current fireworks license.
Things you need to know if considering to sell fireworks from temporary fireworks stands:
The law puts forth additional rules for temporary fireworks stands. The name and address of each temporary fireworks stand must be submitted to the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner (commonly known as Georgia Insurance Commissioner). A distributor can open and operate no more than 2 temporary fireworks stands. There are 2 main exceptions to this rule. First, there is an exception for chains distributors, in that they are not allowed to open any more than 2 temporary stands per chain store. However, the temporary stores owned by the chain distributor must be in the same county as the chain store. Second, there is an exception to this rule where the permanent store is within 75 miles of a county without a licenses fireworks distributor, that permanent store may locate one temporary store in that unserved county. There is a $500.00 license fee for each temporary stand location. These temporary licenses last for a period of 90 days. Each temporary fireworks store must be within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant, unless given special permission to operate outside of this 1,000 foot proximity. Also, the sale of fireworks, temporary or otherwise, are prohibited from a motor vehicle or a trailer towed by a motor vehicle.
Who can sell fireworks?
You must be 18 or older to be a lawful fireworks distributor. However, persons aged 16 and 17 can work as assistants to licensed fireworks distributors.
Who can purchase fireworks?
Under the law, a purchaser of fireworks must be 18 years of age or older. A government issued ID with the purchaser’s birth date and photo or physical description must be shown to the seller. This transaction must take place in person, face-to-face in order to legally purchase fireworks.
Who can possess fireworks?
You must be 18 years old to be in possession of fireworks. However, 16 and 17 years old can possess and transport them if they are assisting a legal distributor of fireworks.
When and where can fireworks be discharged?
The new Georgia Fireworks Law will take effect on July 1, 2015. After that date, it will be legal to shoot fireworks between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and midnight every day. On July 3, July 4, December 31, and January 1, the curfew on setting off fireworks extends from midnight to 2:00 a.m. Fireworks may not be discharged within 100 yards of a nuclear plant or a business which sells or refines gasoline products. Also, fireworks may not be discharged indoors. There are also restrictions regarding schools.
Fines and penalties:
The law imposes a fine of up to $2,500 per infraction of the law. Also, any fireworks that are made, sold, or housed in violation of the law and can be seized and destroyed at the owner’s expense. Additionally, any seller that knowingly or willfully fails to pay the excise tax imposed on fireworks can be fined up to $10,000 not including the cost of unpaid taxes.
Proponents of the law feels it gives Georgia economy a boost and keep dollars that would have otherwise been spent in out of state fireworks in the state. Opponents of the law feel it leads to additional fire hazards and injuries. No matter which opinion you support, it is important to stay safe and stay legal if planning to sell, purchase, or use fireworks.
About the attorney: Anne Bishop is a Georgia Lawyer with A. Bishop Law in Gainesville, Georgia and handles various DUI / DWI, Marijuana Arrests and other Georgia Criminal Defense matters. The law office of A. Bishop Law can assist clients throughout Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch), Jackson County (Jefferson, Braselton) White County (Helen, Cleveland), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), and all of Northeast Georgia.
This article and/or video should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.