4th of July guide: Fireworks laws in DC, Maryland and Virginia

Across the U.S., Independence Day is all about celebrating the nation’s history with food, family and, of course, fireworks. But here in the DMV, laws on what fireworks can be bought and where they can be used can be confusing.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s legal and what’s not in your area: 

D.C. fireworks laws

Sparklers less than 20 inches, torches, box fire, fountains, cones, dip sticks, non-poisonous snakes, paper novelty items, colored lights, and paper caps are all allowed in D.C. 

Firecrackers or fireworks that explode, such as cherry bombs, salutes, Roman candles, floral shells and artillery shells are not allowed in the District. 

RELATED: Fireworks accidentally ignite massive DC apartment fire that displaced 76 residents

For the full list of approved fireworks, click here.

Any person found with illegal fireworks in D.C. could face fines and penalties up to $1,000 and/or arrest. Any illegal fireworks seized by D.C. Police or Fire are destroyed within 30 days.

Maryland fireworks laws

For the most part, fireworks are illegal in the state of Maryland although some municipalities allow ground-based sparklers and certain novelty items.

You can find Maryland's approved list of ground-based sparklers here

Party poppers, snap pops and snakes are also allowed except in Baltimore City, Montgomery County and Prince George's County.

Fireworks and ground-based sparklers are prohibited in Ocean City, Harford and Howard counties.

Virginia fireworks laws

Virginia is a mixed bag when it comes to fireworks laws. 

According to the state Fire Marshal’s Office, the use of fireworks on private property is allowed unless prohibited by a local ordinance — like in Alexandria where fireworks aren’t permitted at all. 

They are allowed in many parts of the state but the Commonwealth has a detailed list of all fireworks approved for use. 

In general, sparklers, novelty items, torches, and stationery box fireworks like fountains are allowed.

Illegal fireworks — anything that shoots above 16.4 feet, rockets, mortars, shells, torpedoes and skyrockets — are not allowed or are limited to certified pyrotechnicians or operators. Any fireworks that move on the ground like space flyers or jack in the boxes are also not allowed.

Purchasing, selling or using illegal fireworks in Virginia can result in a Class one misdemeanor charge with a maximum fine of $2,500 and one year in jail.

Not interested in setting off your own fireworks? You can watch D.C.’s annual fireworks show LIVE on FOX Local