Juvenile curfew laws are designed to reduce youth-related crime, violence, and delinquency by keeping juveniles at home during the nighttime hours, where they will presumably have fewer opportunities to commit crime or become a victim of crime. More recently, curfew laws have been enacted to apply to the time that youths should be in school, to allow the police to better enforce truancy laws.
The target population of curfew laws includes all juveniles in a geographical area, as defined by specific curfew laws. Some laws specify youths under 18 years of age, while others specify youths under age 17.
Juvenile curfew laws include a variety of regulated activities and penalties. The laws vary in targeted age groups, hours of restricted activities, exceptions, and sanctions.
Curfew hours vary, but often begin at 10 or 11 p.m. during the week and midnight on weekends, and end at 5 or 6 a.m. But some daytime curfew ordinances, designed to keep youths in school and off the streets, have been enacted and apply from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Common exceptions to curfew laws include traveling with a parent or guardian, or returning home from school, work, or a religious activity. Sanctions can include fines (that may increase with the number of violations), community service, or driver’s license restrictions.
Business curfew laws typically restrict the operating hours of some businesses in densely-populated areas, such as liquor stores, restaurants, and grocery stores. These business curfew laws or ordinances often require stores to close between certain hours, such as 11:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. Cities often implement these laws or ordinances in areas with high levels of crime, loitering, and disorderly conduct. Business curfew laws typically do not apply to late-night pharmacies and bars.