A curfew is a type of ordinance that requires people, usually minors, to be home before a certain time each day. Some areas also have daytime curfews that prohibit youth from being at public places during school hours. In disastrous situations, such as 2005's Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Chilean earthquake, curfews were instituted to decrease looting and allow cleanup crews do their jobs.
Curfews are important to keep minors off the street and reduce loitering and crime. Many cities and states enforce these laws as a way to prevent illegal activities or distractions, and for parents to know where their teenagers are at all times. During curfew, minors must be indoors or accompanied by an adult or legal guardian.
When a state has a curfew, it is set throughout all cities or counties. No matter the location of the minor, he or she must abide by the state curfew and remain indoors. If the state does not have a mandated curfew, particular cities might, and some may have ones that are different from the state curfew. Regardless of the two curfews, minors are required to abide by the curfew in the city where they live.
Hawaii is currently the only state that has a state-wide curfew. Although Florida and California have considered a state-wide curfew, neither state has actively pursued instituting one. Though the state does not have one, some California cities do. These curfews are usually 10 p.m. during the weekdays and 12 a.m. on the weekends. Certain circumstances will allow a minor to remain out after hours. These exceptions include religious, political or educational activities, work or emergencies, or activities with or for a legal guardian.
A police officer will escort those who break the curfew home. After the first offense, it is the parents’ responsibility to provide or pay for transportation. If the teen continues to break curfew, he may become a ward of the state and treated as an offender.
To find out whether or not your city has a curfew, contact your local police department. It will have information about curfews, the exact times, and procedures for offenders who break the curfew.