The Grosse Pointe Woods city council approved two new ordinances this week addressing fireworks and drunk drivers.
The new ordinances tweak the old city fireworks ordinance to be in line with recent state legislation governing consumer fireworks use and the other allows local authorities to prosecute drivers whose blood alcohol content levels exceed 0.17 percent with an elevated charge with harsher penalties.
New fireworks ordinance tracks state law
The Woods’ former fireworks ordinance prohibited a person from possessing, using or exploding different types of fireworks which are now allowed under the state’s new fireworks law. While it was still a valid ordinance outside of the thirty days that the state allows fireworks to be used, the city has repealed ordinance SEC. 28-398 and adopted a new one that reflects the state’s current legislation.
In a statement to the city council, City Attorney Chip Berschback referenced the more than 35 calls made to public safety and the flurry of calls and emails to city administrators about the round-the-clock noise over the 4th of July holiday.
“Contrary to some beliefs, current noise ordinances do not allow the city to prohibit the use of fireworks during the 30 days allowed under state law,” Berschback said.
The new state law, Michigan Fireworks Safety Act, which allows the use of consumer fireworks on ten national holidays and the day before and after, has drawn sharp criticism state-wide due to the all-hours pyrotechnics and accompanying noise. The law does not provide restrictions on the hours or environments that fireworks can be used.
Berschback said that there is a good chance that the State fireworks law may be amended in some way and this may allow municipalities to regulate in a better manner the hours and locations fireworks may be used. In that event, Berschback said a new ordinance would need to be adopted by the city.
In an e-mail to Patch, City Administrator Al Fincham said, “Our new ordinance complies to [sic] the new State Law. Based upon the number of complaints across the state, it is likely that the state law will be amended to allow local authority to establish and enforce reasonable time limits and distances from structures etc.”
'Super Drunk' ordinance provides local prosecution and fines
The state’s “Super Drunk” law that went into effect in 2010 gives drivers who are found with a blood alcohol content of 0.17 percent or greater with more serious punishment and a possible jail sentence of up to one year.
A recent amendment to the state law now allows cities to codify the law under municipal ordinance and take over the prosecution of this offense.
The Woods’ new ordinance, Sec. 42-108, permits the city to prosecute this offense locally and allows fines and related costs to be paid to the city not the State, Berschback said in a written statement.
Violation of the new high blood alcohol content ordinance is a misdemeanor and carries a possible punishment of 360 community service hours, imprisonment of up
to 180 days and a maximum fine of $700.
Both ordinances go into effect 20 days from Monday’s city council meeting or on Sept. 9.