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Office of Public Information (609) 882-2000
Capt. Al Della Fave ext. 6514
Lt. Gerald Lewis ext. 6516
Sgt. Stephen Jones ext. 6513
Sgt. Jeanne Hengemuhle ext. 6515

June 21, 2007

New Jersey State Police to Stop Fireworks at the Borders

West Trenton – The Office of the Attorney General and the New Jersey State Police have stepped up enforcement activities during this pre-Fourth of July period to confiscate fireworks wherever found and prevent injuries and property damage. The State Police will be patrolling near Delaware River crossings with Pennsylvania where retail outlets are selling fireworks. It is illegal to use, possess or transport fireworks in New Jersey.

State troopers working in partnership with the Attorney General’s office, the Division of Fire Safety, the Department of Environmental Protection and other law enforcement agencies will be monitoring and enforcing the state Fireworks Regulation Law. Those caught with fireworks are subject to arrests and fines.

Enforcement activities are geared to ensure strict adherence to the law. It is a crime to sell, use, and/or possess any kind of fireworks, including firecrackers, Roman candles, M80s, cherry bombs, salutes, and even sparklers in New Jersey without a valid permit.

Patrols will monitor motorists who venture into Pennsylvania purchase fireworks and transport them back to New Jersey.

Earlier this year, the Office of the Attorney General and the Division of Consumer Affairs negotiated a consent order with a number of fireworks retail operators that demands signs disclose at the retail outlets that New Jersey law prohibits the transportation, sale, possession or use of fireworks in New Jersey without a valid permit. Similar disclosure is required as well in catalogues distributed by the retail stores.

“Fireworks are illegal and extremely dangerous,’’ First Assistant Attorney General Anne Milgram. “Each year thousands are seriously injured and maimed. A time of celebration can turn into tragedy. We want New Jersey residents to celebrate the Fourth of July safely and legally.’’

Each year emergency rooms are full of patients who are injured by illegal fireworks while fire departments are kept busy during the fireworks season. Since 2003, there have been almost 10,000 fireworks related injuries annually, half of which occurred to children 14 years old and younger. In each of the past three years, more than 2,000 structure fires have been attributed to fireworks causing in excess of $20 million in damages.

In any given year, the State Police confiscate between 500 and 1,000 cases of illegal fireworks or approximately six to eight tons of illegal explosives. Last year, a similar Delaware River crossings fireworks initiative resulted in the arrest of 48 individuals and the confiscation of 2,135 pounds of fireworks, valued at $11,017.

Computerized variable message signs on many of New Jersey’s major highways have been programmed to display the message, “FIREWORKS ILLEGAL IN NJ. ARRESTS/FINES IMPOSED.” This message has been on display since Tuesday evening and seen millions of times already.

“Our troopers are ready and the highway message signs are shouting out the warning: fireworks do not belong in New Jersey,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “The majority of illegal fireworks are brought into New Jersey by adults, but children are often the ones who suffer the injuries. We want to stop illegal fireworks before more people are hurt.”

Possession of fireworks is a petty disorderly persons offense, but possession with the intent to sell is a fourth-degree offense, with a possible maximum penalty of 18 months imprisonment and fines up to $10,000.

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