Avoiding Trouble on the 4th of July

Keeping Your Independence Day Safe and Legal

Independence Day is the quintessential summer holiday – a time for family get-togethers, backyard cookouts, and fireworks. Yet every year, thousands of people across the state of North Carolina find themselves ticketed or in jail because their festivities got out of hand. Here are some things you need to know before you kick off your celebration this 4th of July, so you won’t have to call our office on the 5th of July.

It is not uncommon for Independence Day events to involve drinking. Law enforcement tends to be more vigilant around holidays such as the 4th of July for precisely this reason. While there is nothing wrong with having beers with family and friends, people should exercise caution. Criminal defense attorneys tend to see an uptick in offenses such as driving while impaired (DWI) after July 4th. Know your limits, ask a friend or relative to act as your designated driver, and when in doubt, call a taxi – cab fare is less expensive than the cost and hassle of a DWI charge.

In addition to driving while impaired, the law of North Carolina prohibits boating while impaired. North Carolina makes it illegal for individuals to operate any motorized or nonmotorized vessel, water ski, surfboard or similar device in the waters of North Carolina with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of greater than 0.08. With Falls Lake and Jordan Lake both easily accessible to residents of Raleigh, recreational water sports are a popular summer pastime in Wake County. If your holiday is going to include spending time out on the water, remember that even paddling a kayak after consuming a few cocktails can result in a criminal citation.

It wouldn’t be the 4th of July without fireworks, and many individuals enjoy supplementing the larger public displays with private fireworks demonstrations of their own. In North Carolina, however, certain fireworks and other pyrotechnic devices are prohibited from being sold or used on state soil without a special permit. Sparklers, ash “snakes,” and devices that do not detonate or leave the ground when ignited are permitted. However, popular fireworks like firecrackers and Roman candles are banned. Most fireworks which can be purchased at the store or a roadside tent are of the legal variety, but if you purchased your fireworks in another state, they may violate N.C. law. Possession, sale, or use of illicit fireworks is a Class 2 misdemeanor in North Carolina.

The staff here at Kurtz and Blum, PLLC wishes everyone a safe and happy Independence Day.