Eastern Iowans hoping to celebrate the Fourth of July with their own pyrotechnics first should make sure they may legally do so.
While the Iowa Legislature last year legalized the sale of fireworks across the state, local governments have the authority to regulate their use within their respective boundaries.
Several communities have passed local rules limiting or outright banning the use of fireworks, creating a patchwork of regulations across Linn and Johnson counties.
“I think the biggest problem for us is trying to figure out exactly what the specific law is for each community that we serve. It’s hard to keep it all in your head,” said Maj. Chad Colston of the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, which provides law enforcement for 12 communities and unincorporated Linn County.
State law, in areas where it has not been superseded by local rules, allows for the sale and use of consumer fireworks from June 1 through July 8 and Dec. 10 to Jan. 3, generally from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fireworks can be ignited later on weekends and the July 4 holiday.
But some of the area’s largest communities, like Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Coralville and North Liberty, prohibit the use of fireworks.
Other cities, including Marion and Hiawatha, allow but limit the use of fireworks. In those areas, fireworks can be set off only from noon to 11 p.m. July 4.
Penalties for illegal use of fireworks range from fines of $250 to $650.
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Lt. Brian Adolph, with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, said officers have discretion when addressing the illegal use of fireworks. Oftentimes a warning can suffice, he said.
“Some people just don’t understand the new rules because they’re so varied,” he said. “I think our biggest concern is the safety of people out there.”
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