City to vote on overhaul of fireworks ordinance

Proposed changes include penalties for selling or discharging fireworks outside appointed times

As soon as Monday, the Auburn City Council could turn thumbs up or down on an ordinance that proposes a raft of changes to the city’s fireworks code.

Changes, Assistant City Attorney Doug Ruth told the city council Monday night, that would rewrite the penalties for violations of the city’s fireworks code largely by removing criminal penalties and replacing them with infraction penalties.

As of today, the code regulates the display of fireworks, the timing of the sale and discharge of fireworks, and the type of fireworks that may be manufactured, possessed, used or detonated within the city.

The ordinance proposes to change the penalties for selling or discharging fireworks outside the appointed times from a misdemeanor to an infraction and make the same change in penalties for possessing, using, or detonating prohibited fireworks in the city.

The current code limits the type of fireworks, making whatever “goes-up-or-blows-up,” illegal, Ruth said.

In both cases of the revision, the first violation subjects the offender to a maximum fine of $250 upon conviction. The second violation within a year is subject to a $500 fine. And every violation thereafter within a year is subject to a misdemeanor penalty – a maximum of 90 days in jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.

For fireworks sales, the proposed ordinance directs that a conviction for violating the fireworks code may result in a revoked permit, the city’s closure of the fireworks stand and denial of a sales permit for the following year.

For fireworks displays, the ordinance adds the same consequences for violations of the fireworks code. A display operator who violates the code and/or display permit may lose the permit, be prohibited from operating the display and the city may deny a display permit for the next year.

Finally, it would create a new crime, discharging fireworks. The crime is violated if a person uses or discharges fireworks in a reckless manner that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person, or damage to the property of another. Upon conviction, the violator is subject to a gross misdemeanor penalty, which is a maximum of 364 days in jail and/or a $5,000 fine. A court may also order the person to pay restitution for any resulting property damage.

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