The Fourth of July is nearly synonymous with fireworks, but before Illinois residents, especially Chicagoans, celebrate, it’s good to refresh yourself on the laws and regulations of fireworks in the state to prevent a hefty fine or a ruined holiday this year.
Illinois has some of the strictest fireworks laws and the Fourth of July is no exception. In fact, it is one of the few states that has a statewide ban on all fireworks, including all types of firecrackers, roman candles, and fountains. However, Illinois does not regulate the possession of “novelty fireworks,” which includes things like sparklers, glow worm pellets, smoke bombs, and party poppers, but instead gives the legal authority to localities.
Fireworks often become a problem in Illinois, especially Chicago, because the neighboring states of Wisconsin and Indiana have much more lax laws that make purchasing fireworks just over the state border incredibly easy. But don’t be tempted; in the weeks leading up to the Fourth of July Illinois State Police take extra steps to ensure illegal fireworks aren’t being brought back into Illinois.
Chicago has had a complete ban on sparklers since 2007 due to the potential for injury, especially to children. Being caught with sparklers in the Windy Citycould lead a $200 to $500 fine . In Cook County Forest Preserves, all fireworks, including novelties, are banned and all tickets come with mandatory court dates where fines range from $75 to $500. The suburbs are also cracking down on violators of the state and local law. In Aurora, first time offenders are fined $250 and $100 for each additional violation. In Naperville, fines start at $75 but when it comes to larger possessions of fireworks in the suburb police are given discretion when it comes to larger fines.
The State Fire Marshal maintains information on prohibited and legal fireworks in the state as outlined by the Fireworks Use Act. The state does allow firework display permits, which are given out by towns based on the state’s laws and the local laws. But just because towns give out permits doesn’t mean it’s easy to get one. For example, Chicago has a lengthy permit process that includes proof of compliance with the Illinois Pyrotechnic Operators Licensing Act and a plan that details the firework discharge site, fall out site, spectator viewing site, and distances between the sites.
In summary, when it comes to fireworks in Illinois, leave it to the professionals or stick to the small, novelty fireworks to ensure you have a safe and ticket-free Fourth of July.