New Year's fireworks could lead to ticket in some areas

It’s illegal for Joseph Williams Jr. to set off fireworks in his front yard because he lives in the city of Charleston. It’s not illegal for his next door neighbor in Charleston County.

As far as Williams is concerned, it hasn’t been a problem. New Year’s Eve fireworks go off all the time around the Forest Lakes community that tiptoes city limits.

Williams didn’t even realize the law was different home to home.

“No, in fact I haven’t heard anything about it,” Williams said Thursday.

Individual fireworks remain illegal in Charleston, Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms. Nearly every other municipal and county government in the Lowcountry has thrown up its hands and covered its ears. Summerville and Mount Pleasant, among other municipalities, recently considered banning the blasts. But nearly everybody concedes that’s a lost cause.

Legal fireworks or not, police departments respond to complaints and tend to cite offenders for noise violations.

“If John Doe is shooting off fireworks in the city, we’re going to respond in a timely manner. But if there’s a call coming in about a burglary or something else, we’re going to respond to that first. The most important thing for people is to be safe. If it’s illegal in the city, don’t shoot in the city,” said Charles Francis, Charleston Police Department Public Information Officer.

“We expect them at midnight, but might crack down if they’re still going off at 3 a.m.,” said Hanahan Police Lt. Michael Fowler. Fireworks are legal in the city, but problems will be treated as noise violations, he said.