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New Year’s Fireworks Can Lead to Criminal Charges

Jan 02, 2017, by Maurice Davis in Criminal Defense, Legal Blog

For many Michiganders, no New Year’s or Fourth of July celebration is complete without a raucous display of fireworks. Unfortunately, not everyone appreciates the festivities. If you were cited for making too much noise after permitted hours or using New Year’s fireworks in an illegal manner, you may be facing the prospect of criminal charges and fines. You don’t have to deal with this situation alone.

Attorney Maurice Davis can help. Call today at (313) 818-3238.

Fireworks Are Legal in Michigan – With Many Exceptions

In 2012, the Michigan legislature amended state law to make most consumer-grade fireworks legal to use on private property. Before the reform, some fireworks such as roman candles, bottle rockets, and other projectile fireworks were illegal. That year, local law enforcement agencies received so many complaints about noise that the legislature amended the law once again in 2013.

Under the 2013 reforms to the Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, fireworks remained legal, but local municipalities were given the authority to ban the use of fireworks from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. on any day except Federal holidays and the days immediately preceding or following them. Municipalities are allowed to punish violations of these ordinances with fines of up to $500.

So, if you shoot off fireworks on December 31 or January 1, you might assume you are protected from any criminal liability, but you would be wrong. Just because the use of fireworks is legal doesn’t mean that you can use them in a way that disturbs your neighbors or that might put property at risk.

When Nuisance and Arson Laws Conflict with the Right to Use Fireworks

Before you set off fireworks, make sure to check your city’s ordinances. In Detroit, for example, the city noise ordinances do not specifically address fireworks, but you could potentially be sanctioned for setting off fireworks if your neighbors complain about the noise. Although most city ordinances do not mention fireworks, nearly all of them make it illegal to make unreasonable amounts of noise:

  • Detroit – It is unlawful for any person to unreasonably disturb the public peace and quiet, or to unreasonably disturb or annoy the quiet, comfort and repose of persons in the vicinity… (City Ordinance 36-1-1(a))
  • Troy – Yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing or the making of any other loud noise on the public streets, between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., or the making of any such noise at any time so as to annoy or disturb the quiet, comfort, or repose of persons in any office, or in any dwelling, hotel, or other type of residence, or of any persons in the vicinity (City Ordinances Chapter 88 section 9.5(c))
  • Grand Rapids – No person shall use any premises or suffer any premises under his or her care or control to be used which shall destroy the peace and tranquility of the surrounding neighborhood (Municipal Code section 9.63(3))
  • Lansing – No person shall make, or continue, cause or permit to be made, verbally or mechanically, any unnecessary noise disturbance. (City Ordinance 654.07)

If the authorities declare you a nuisance under a noise ordinance, they can force you to stop shooting fireworks and make you pay a fine. Generally, these sorts of violations do not result in criminal charges, but if you refuse to stop or if you engage in dangerous behavior, you could get prosecuted. You might also face arson charges if your fireworks ignite and destroy someone’s property.

What it all boils down to is that you are allowed to use fireworks, but you may face penalties if you fail to use them in a safe and respectful manner. If you’ve been charged with a noise ordinance violation or a criminal offense from your use of fireworks, call Davis Law Group today at (313) 818-3238 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.