Mon., July 4, 2011 3:14pm (EDT)

Fireworks Bans Can Be Tough To Enforce
By Noel Brown
Updated: 3 years ago

ATHENS, Ga.  —  
Police officials say it can be difficult to enforce Georgia's ban on fireworks that explode or shoot into the sky. (Image courtesy Marshall Brain)
Police officials say it can be difficult to enforce Georgia's ban on fireworks that explode or shoot into the sky. (Image courtesy Marshall Brain)
Police say it can be a challenge enforcing Georgia's ban on certain fireworks.

Many counties hold professional fireworks displays that are regulated by the state Insurance Department. But that doesn't stop people from putting on their own shows with illegal fireworks they buy in neighboring states. 

The Morris News Service reports enforcement of Georgia's ban is so lax that fireworks retailers in nearby South Carolina advertise their wares as far as Atlanta.

The service reports last year fireworks started more than 100 fires across the state and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. But arrests and citations are rare. 

Sergeant Jay Butt with the Athens Clark County Police Department says it can be difficult to enforce the ban because officers can only respond to complaints and what they see and hear.

"As the patrol officers are out and about in their areas if they do see any fireworks displays that are illegal they will stop and take enforcement action on the folks that are in control of those."

Butt says people should use common sense when deciding what kinds of fireworks to use at home.

"Basically the easiest way to put it: If it flies or explodes it's illegal. Of course those are the ones we would see or hear as we're out on patrol and those are the ones we'll be looking to take enforcement action on."

Sparklers and noisemakers are the only fireworks legal in Georgia.

Butt says because Athens cancelled its fireworks display this year, it could mean more Athens residents will break the law.

Getting caught can result in a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail.