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Don't Get Burned-5 Things to Know About Fireworks in Wisconsin

Posted on in Personal Injury

fireworksBy Attorney Steven McGaver

The Fourth of July is right around the corner, and fireworks stores across Wisconsin are gearing up for their busiest seasons. Before you buy your share of explosives, make sure you read these tips to make sure that your Fourth of July display isn't ruined by blue and red lights.

1. You don't need a permit to possess some types of fireworks - Wisconsin law allows the sale, possession and use of sparklers less than 36 inches long, stationary cones and fountains, toy snakes, smoke bombs, caps, noisemakers, confetti poppers with less than 1/4 grain of explosive mixture, and novelty devices that spin or move on the ground without any type of state permit. (Wis. Stat. §167.10(1). There is no age restriction on sale, possession or use of these devices, mainly because the law does not classify them as fireworks. Remember to check your local ordinances, as they may be more restrictive than state statutes and may prohibit any of these items or limit their sale or use.

2. You do need a permit to possess most types of fireworks (especially the good ones) - Firecrackers, roman candles, bottle rockets, mortars, and most anything that flies and/or explodes require a valid permit. (Wis. Stat. §167.10(3).

3. Most adults can get a valid permit to possess some types of fireworks in the city, village, or town where the fireworks will be possessed - Only the mayor, village president, town chairman or a properly designated municipal employee can issue fireworks permits for the municipality where the fireworks will be possessed-not all municipalities issue these types of permits. A valid permit must specify the general kind and approximate quantity of fireworks, location where the fireworks may be possessed, the date of the permitted use, and the date that the fireworks can be purchased. The permit may contain additional restrictions, including times or manner of use, distances from buildings or spectators, etc. (Wis. Stat. §167.10(3)(f)5.) Permits are NEVER issued to minors. (Wis. Stat. §167.10(3)(h). Since minors may not be issued fireworks permits, there are no conditions under which it is legal for a minor to possess or use any fireworks except those allowed without a permit, (ie. sparklers, snakes, fountains, etc.) Persons may transport fireworks from the place they were purchased to the city, town or village where their possession or use is authorized under a permit or ordinance. (Wis. Stat. §167.10(3)(b)7). However, persons transporting fireworks may not possess them in a city, town or village without a permit from that jurisdiction if they remain there for more than 12 hours (Wis. Stat. §167.10(3)(bm).

4. Tourists and visitors to Wisconsin can buy fireworks in Wisconsin as long as they purchase a valid Wisconsin permit - (Wis. Stat. §167.10(3)(a). A nonresident who lawfully purchases fireworks under a permit can possess and use those fireworks in Wisconsin pursuant to the terms of the permit or may transport them out of state. A nonresident without a valid Wisconsin permit may order fireworks from a fireworks vendor for shipping out-of-state. (Wis. Stat. §167.10(4), or may transport those fireworks from Wisconsin to another state.

5. Possessing fireworks without a valid permit can result in a fine of up to $1,000 per illegally possessed firework or in some cases, jail. (Wis.Stat. §167.10(9)(a-b).

Remember to contact the lawyers at Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown LLP for all of your Fourth of July and fireworks questions.

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