Louisiana has no state laws that govern curfews for minors. Yet local cities and parishes have the right to set such curfews. Typically, cities and parishes tend to set curfews for people under the age of 17.
A court may order an adult who has been released on bond or who is on probation for a criminal case to abide by a curfew. The penalty for a minor who commits a curfew violation usually involves a fine. The penalty for an adult who incurs a curfew violation may involve a violation of a bond condition or term of probation. Such a violation typically results in incarceration.
Examples of Local Curfews
Jefferson Parish, in the greater New Orleans area, has a municipal ordinance that forbids a minor under 17 years of age to be in a public place parish-wide Monday through Thursday between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. and Friday through Sunday between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. A minor who is out during these hours without proper adult supervision may be held and questioned by parish deputies. The City of Baton Rouge does not address juvenile curfews in its municipal ordinances.
The town of Delhi provides in its code of ordinances that it is unlawful for any person under the age of 17 to be in, or to remain in or upon a public street or thoroughfare or other public place between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. Sunday through Thursday. Also, minors under 17 may not be in, or remain in, such places between 12 a.m. and 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The exceptions to Delhi’s rules are:
- If a minor is accompanied by their parent or guardian, or an adult authorized by their parent to take the parent’s place when accompanying the minor for a designated period of time and purpose within a specified area.
- If a minor is exercising First Amendment rights protected by the U.S. Constitution, such as freedom of speech. The minor must first have given notice to the mayor by delivering a written communication signed by the minor and their parent specifying when and where the minor will be in a public place.
- In case of an emergency that can be verified by a law enforcement officer.
- When the minor is returning home, within 30 minutes of the end of a lawfully organized event, the attendance of which has been approved in writing by the parent.
- When the minor has been authorized by a special permit from the mayor or their designated representative to be on the streets during curfew hours for normal or necessary nighttime activities.
- The minor is a member of a group of minors permitted by a regulation issued by the mayor or a designated representative to be on the streets during curfew hours for normal or necessary nighttime activities.
- The minor is employed during curfew hours, and such employment is verifiable.
- The minor is in a motor vehicle with parental consent and in the normal course of interstate travel through the town.
Curfew Rules in the City of New Orleans
New Orleans’ curfew rules differ slightly from those of other cities because they relate to school, seasonality and geographic location. This city’s rules state that a minor may not remain in a public place:
- Or on the premises of an establishment between 6 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. when they are required to be in school.
- Between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, between June 1 and August 31.
- Between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, between September 1 and May 31.
- Between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
- Between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Saturday in the area bounded by both sides of these streets: Canal Street, North Rampart, Elysian Fields Avenue and the Mississippi River.
Curfews for Other Instances
Cities and parishes typically provide in their code of ordinances that local leaders may issue unique curfews in cases of civil emergency such as a hurricane or the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Such curfews can usually be found on the city’s official website. The curfews apply to all individuals, not only juveniles, unless otherwise stated.
The city or parish usually posts the expiration date for the curfew. A college or university has the right to impose a curfew on its students, particularly in areas such as residence halls. Yet an institute of higher education, like Loyola University, may choose not to impose a curfew.
Curfews and Driving Laws
A teen driver, or a driver between the ages of 15 and 17, may not incur curfew, alcohol or drug law violations prior to receiving a learner's license. A teen driver must avoid curfew violations to keep a learner’s license at age 15, an intermediate license at age 16 and a Class E license at age 17.
A parish may also restrict through its local ordinances when a teen driver can drive. For example, Calcasieu Parish mandates a teen driver may not drive between 11 a.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian, a licensed adult at least 21 years old, or a licensed sibling at least 18 years old.
If the teen is not accompanied by a licensed adult 21 or older, the teen may not transport more than one passenger under age 21 who is not an immediate family member between the hours of 6 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Penalties for Curfew Violations
A custodian, meaning a parent or guardian with legal custody of a minor, may face a penalty for curfew violation. The minor will not face the penalty. In New Orleans, the custodian may be jailed for up to six months in the parish jail and fined $500 if a minor violates a local curfew. Each day that a violation continues is considered a separate offense.
In appropriate cases, the city attorney may recommend that the court suspend the sentence on a first or second offense. As a condition of the suspension order, the court may require the minor to perform up to 60 hours of community service. As part of, or in lieu of, the penalty, a custodian may be required to obtain counseling or attend classes or programs to improve parenting and child-raising skills.
If the custodian is convicted of a third offense, the city attorney will provide the district attorney with a record of the prosecution. The district attorney may determine whether to prosecute the custodian under the Louisiana Children’s Code.
What Happens During Curfew Violation
Typically, a teen who violates curfew will be taken to a law enforcement station or to a center that assists children experiencing homelessness. The facility will call their legal guardian or custodian and hold the teen until the custodian picks them up.
In New Orleans, a custodian may not permit a minor to remain in police department custody more than six hours after being notified of the detention without communicating with the detaining authority about the minor’s release. Further, the custodian may not unreasonably permit the minor to remain in city custody for more than 24 hours after the minor has been detained.
- Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office: Jefferson Parish Juvenile Curfew
- Delhi: Code of Ordinances, Sec. 9.92.040, Curfew for Minors, Hours
- Delhi: Code of Ordinances, Sec. 9.92.050, Curfew for Minors, Exceptions
- Baton Rouge: Code of Ordinances, Sec. 13:1056, Curfew for Juveniles
- Baton Rouge: Code of Ordinances, Sec. 15:4, Curfew
- Louisiana Emergency Response Network: Louisiana's Graduated Driver's License Laws
- Calcasieu Parish Sheriffs Office: Sec. 18-1, Curfew for Minors Established, Exceptions, Penalty
- New Orleans: Code of Ordinances, Section 54-414, Curfew for Persons Under 17 Years of Age
- Nola.com: As New Orleans Begins Youth Curfew, Questions About Effectiveness Persist
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.