Ask the Mayor: New Fireworks Law

December 29, 2019, 12:01 PM HST · Updated December 28, 7:45 PM
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Fourth of July fireworks display. Lahaina, Maui (7.4.18) PC: Rachael Johnson

Mayor Michael Victorino answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Q: Can you please explain the new laws enacted concerning firework usage and who can be held responsible and the fines involved in the event fireworks are used illegally?

A: Mahalo for your question, especially as we near New Year’s Eve parties and celebrations. I would be happy to help explain the new State laws that were enacted earlier this year to target illegal aerial fireworks use.

The new law establishes criminal liability for a homeowner, renter or person responsible for real property who intentionally, knowingly or recklessly allows an individual to possess, set off, ignite or cause to explode any aerial device while on the real property. It also sets criminal penalties, which can constitute a Class C felony, a misdemeanor or a fine of at least $500 and no more than $2,000.

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The new law also adds clarity for determining probable cause to make an arrest. The facts and circumstances for the arrest may include but are not be limited to: statements from individuals who witnessed the offense, even if they’re not law enforcement officers; and photographs, video recordings or other recordings that show the commission of the offense that can be authenticated by one or more witnesses – provided that a recording made using an unmanned aerial vehicle shall be exempt from the requirement for authentication by one or more witnesses.

This State law gives our Maui Police Department new tools to combat this community concern and bring peace to our residents, children and family pets. I fully support their efforts to crack down on illegal aerial fireworks and applaud their recent seizure of a shipping case holding hundreds of pounds of aerial fireworks and mortar shells, as well as over 40,000 firecrackers.

It is illegal to import, transfer, sell or use aerial fireworks without a permit. Using aerial fireworks without a permit or license can be prosecuted as a Class C felony. Licensed applicants must have a pyrotechnics license from the State of Hawaii, among other requirements.

It’s clear that some people are still trying to smuggle in illegal fireworks and my hope is that this new measure will help our police and prosecutors to hold them accountable. There are plenty of legal ways to enjoy fireworks, including watching the aerial display at the Grand Wailea Resort, which starts right before midnight.

As for those celebrating in their driveways, fireworks can only be legally set off from 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to 1 a.m. New Year’s Day. Please remember to not give fireworks to young children and celebrate away from any structures, dry grass or brush. Mahalo and Merry Christmas!

Want to Ask the Mayor?

Submit your Maui County related questions to Mayor Michael Victorino by email at [email protected], by phone at 270-7855 or by mail at 200 S. High St., ninth floor, Wailuku 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the “Ask the Mayor” column; to request a personal response to a concern, email [email protected]

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