Cracking down on the illegal use and sale of fireworks

  • By Amy Daybert Enterprise editor
  • Tuesday, November 11, 2008 6:17pm

A citywide ban against the sale, use and discharge of fireworks hasn’t been enough to stop some from lighting them off in Lake Forest Park. Now members of the City Council are hopeful that new legislation makes the city code easier for police to enforce.

The council changed the penalty for firework violations from a misdemeanor to a civil infraction for the first two offenses at the Nov. 6 council meeting. Violations will carry a $200 fine before the penalty becomes a misdemeanor if a subject is guilty of a third offense within a five-year span.

“This way (officers) can go to the owner of house and can cite them on the spot,” police chief Dennis Peterson said. “That’s the immediate impact.”

Reasons for making the change followed similar ideology that supported changes to the city’s skateboarding restrictions in September. Although penalties for the offenses were more severe as misdemeanors, the laws were too difficult to enforce without changing them to civil infractions, according to police.

A proposed ordinance suggested changing the city’s penalty section of the fireworks law to carry a monetary fine of $200 for the first offense; $300 for the second offense; and $500 for the third offense.

Councilman Dwight Thompson spoke in support of an amendment to include one straight $200 fee for up to three offenses and a misdemeanor penalty on the fourth offense.

“I’m trying to make it very simple,” Thompson said.

The penalty should become a misdemeanor by the third offense in five consecutive years, argued councilmembers Catherine Stanford and Ed Sterner.

“When you think of the barriers to anyone actually getting cited by this somebody who hasn’t figured it out after two citations ought to have a misdemeanor due to dumbness,” Sterner said. “I can support the simple version if third or subsequent offense is a misdemeanor.”

The amendment was revised and the ordinance was adopted unanimously.

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