Texas Curfew Law

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Curfew laws in Texas, known as juvenile curfew, are city ordinances that prohibit minors from being out in public past a certain time at night without an adult and during school hours without supervision. These laws are Intended to protect minors and promote school attendance.

Curfew Basics

Cities in Texas create individual curfew ordinances. They are typically restrictions during the week, weekends, and during school hours. They apply to minors between the ages of nine and 17. For example, in San Antonio it is illegal for a minor to ..." walk, run, stand, drive or ride in or about a public place" within the city limits from 9 a.m to 2:30 p.m. during the week when school is in session. The curfew also exists from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the week, and from midnight to 6 a.m. on weekends.

Penalties and Enforcement

Curfew penalties are typically misdemeanors, punishable by a fine of up to $500. It is unlawful for a parent or guardian to knowingly allow or permit a minor to violate curfew ordinances. Parents are liable for fines assessed for a minor's curfew violation. Police officers identify the offending minor and his parents or guardians, and send a warning notice to adults and the department governing youth services.

Defenses

Curfew laws do not apply to minors on an emergency errand or sent on a task at the direction of a guardian. First amendment rights may also trump curfew laws. The minor could be found to be exercising his right to free speech, freedom to assemble or expressing religious beliefs.

Geographic Variances

In Dallas and Pearland Texas curfews restrict movement outside the home or front yard from 11p.m. to 6 a.m. Weekend curfews are from midnight to 6 a.m. San Antonio curfews are enforced during the week from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m. Some cities have special curfews based upon location within the city. For example, in the city of Austin there is a standard curfew from 11p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, but an 11p.m. to 6 a.m. restriction within the Austin downtown entertainment district at all times.

Perceived Benefits of Curfew

The first curfew laws in Texas were enacted in Austin in 1994, according to the United States Office of Juvenile Justice. In the first three months of curfew enforcement the city of Dallas reported juvenile victimization during curfew hours declined by over 17 percent and juvenile arrests were reduced by over 14 percent.

References

About the Author

Based near Chicago, Sameca Pandova has been writing since 1995 and now contributes to various websites. He is an attorney with experience in health care, family and criminal prosecution issues. Pandova holds a Master of Laws in health law from Loyola University Chicago, a Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Arts in history and political science from Case Western.