New York

What to Know About Fourth of July Fireworks Laws in the Tri-state Area

What to Know

  • For the Fourth of July, people can enjoy sparkling devices in certain parts of New York state, New Jersey and Connecticut
  • Sparkling devices remain illegal in New York City and Nassau, Richmond and Schenectady counties, and most devices are banned in Connecticut
  • In Connecticut and New Jersey, sparkling device users must be 16 years old or older, while users in New York must be at least 18 years old

With Independence Day just around the corner, the most googled topic relating to July Fourth has been fireworks — where to see them, where to buy them and how to use them.

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For those that want to ditch the huge, crowded fireworks events and put on your own spectacular show right at home, there are a few legal things you need to know.

After 100 years of restrictive fireworks laws, New York state legalized the recreational purchase and usage of “sparkling devices” in 2014. New Jersey followed suit in 2017.

Before you get too excited, sparkling devices are still illegal in New York City and Nassau, Richmond and Schenectady counties unless you belong to an organization or association with the proper permits.

The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services defines sparkling devices as “ground-based or handheld devices that produce a shower of colored sparks and or a colored flame, audible crackling or whistling noise and smoke.”

This includes sparkling fountains, smoking devices, snakes, confetti-filled party poppers, paper-wrapped snappers and sparklers on wooden sticks. Note that sparklers on metal sticks are strictly prohibited.

That means setting off some of the pyrotechnics of your youth, like firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles, spinners or any other aerial fireworks, may get you into major trouble.

In Connecticut, which legalized wooden sparklers in 2000, almost all pyrotechnics are still banned except for sparklers and non-aerial fountains.

Even if you are able to buy sparkling devices, they can only be purchased from July 1 to July 5 and December 26 to January 1 in New York.

According to New Jersey and Connecticut laws, the minimum age for legal usage of approved pyrotechnics is 16 years old.

In New York, no person under the age of 18 is allowed to handle sparkling devices under any circumstances. Any adult that allows a minor to handle a sparkling device can be charged with a crime. 

That’s right. If you hand off a sparkler to your child, you might be spending the rest of the holiday in the slammer or face fines of several hundred dollars — not the best way to celebrate America’s birthday.

For more information about fireworks rules and regulations, reach out to your local law enforcement.

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