TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Many fireworks displays you’ll likely see or hear this New Year’s Eve are technically illegal in Florida.
Unless the displays are put on by a professional, they’re against the law. But that might not be the case next year if legislation moving through the Florida Legislature becomes law.
As Craig Dennis with Ashley Pyrotechnics points out, retailers and consumers are able to skirt the current law by signing a form saying the fireworks will be used for agricultural purposes.
“I just bought these the other day. These are all illegal in Florida, but I purchased them because I signed this form that says I’m using them for some exemption under Florida law,” Dennis said.
But a new bill would prevent Floridians from having to lie to enjoy holiday pyrotechnics.
It would allow fireworks to be sold and used three times a year -- on Memorial Day, Independence Day and New Year’s Eve.
“They’re already purchasing fireworks to celebrate national holidays and New Years Eve, New Years Day,” said State Rep. Ana Maria Rodriquez, one of the bill’s sponsors. “And so why put Floridians in a position where they’re going to be perjuring themselves every time that they purchase fireworks, saying that they’re going to use it for something that they’re not?”
The bill is facing opposition from fire safety advocates who point to fireworks causing nearly 300 fires and almost $800,000 in damage in Florida over the past two years alone.
But with or without the bill, fireworks are readily being sold and used under current law.
“All you have to do is sign a form and you walk out the door with whatever you want and here it would simply put retailers like me in a position where we could compete with other larger companies,” said Dennis.
If the bill becomes law, you’ll have to be 18 or older to purchase fireworks. Local governments will also have the authority to enact their own bans on fireworks if they see fit.
The bill only needs to clear one more committee in the House and Senate before floor votes in both chambers.