Remember the days when your dad set fireworks off in the backyard? This doesn’t mean the fireworks when your dad found out you dented his new car! Those days are long gone! While private fireworks usage is legal in some states, it is very strictly regulated in Maryland.
Laws Governing the Use of Fireworks in Maryland The following is a basic summary of the laws in Maryland.
- To buy, or not to buy? There is a complete ban on all consumer fireworks in the Baltimore City, Prince George’s and Montgomery County jurisdictions.
- It’s a sparkling affair. ONLY sparklers without chlorates or perchlorates are permitted in most of Maryland (e.g., “gold label” sparklers and “champagne party poppers”). However, ground-based sparklers are not allowed in Harford County, Howard County and Ocean City.
- What if the fireworks were purchased out of state? If you bought them there, use them there. It is illegal to transport fireworks, even if purchased legally elsewhere, into Maryland. So skip buying fireworks at that big fireworks store in Gettysburg – or the one on Wisconsin Ave in DC located conveniently close to the fire station!
- But officer, I didn’t know… . People are often not aware that they’ve purchased fireworks that aren’t legal in our state. There are, however, resources that will assist you in assessing whether what you’re considering purchasing are permissible fireworks in Maryland. For example, the Maryland State Police publishes a guide that shows the labels for legal and illegal fireworks.
- Boom means doom! If a hand-held or ground-based device generates an explosion, detonation or other loud noise or in any way propels a projectile either along the ground or through the air, it is illegal for private citizens to use. Examples include Cherry Bombs, M-80s, Smoke Bombs, Roman Candles, Sky Rockets and any firework shot from a mortar tube, just to list a few.
- “What if I just go ahead and use fireworks in Maryland anyway?” Although you probably won’t go to jail if you’re caught in possession of or discharging fireworks in Maryland, you can expect: 1) Your fireworks to be confiscated; 2) You may be given a criminal citation; and 3) You may be assessed a fine of up to $250 for possession/discharge and up to $1,000 for sale without a permit.
Please be safe – and be legal. Just head to a high point anywhere around the DC metro area and you will be able to see the fireworks in any direction that you turn. Or do what we do – stay home, turn on the cable news and watch the fireworks in New York, DC, Boston, and then across the country. One year we went to Boston for the 4th to spend it with our daughter. We had the best of intentions of going to the Pops to hear the music and see the fireworks on the Charles. Then the idea of fighting the crowds outweighed the joy of watching the fireworks and hearing the music live – even though this had been on my bucket list. We stayed in the hotel, watched the fireworks from the rooftop and listened to the music of the Pops on television and then monitored the fireworks in DC and New York. All in all, a lovely evening – and just as memorable as the one I had thought I had to have!
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