by Claudia Gilburd

Longer days and warmer nights are on their way.  School will soon let out and spring fever will blossom into summer time fun. Less structured time certainly can be relaxing, but vacation time is no time to relax the rules when it comes to curfews – those often misunderstood ordinances that regulate the hours our children can be legally in public places without our direct supervision.  Last year in Maricopa County, more than 3,200 children were cited by the police for curfew violations.   Their punishments ranged from fines and community service to court-required educational programs and the opening of a juvenile record. Parents of those children were also put on notice that is unlawful for a parent of a minor to knowingly permit, or by insufficient control, allow a minor to violate curfew.  Refusing to pick up your child once he or she is detained by the police is also unlawful and can be punished in some towns by a fine up to $2,500 and 6 months in jail! Like most states, Arizona allows its cities and towns to set their own curfew regulations as a means of curbing crime and protecting juveniles from victimization. Fortunately, most Arizona municipalities share the same rules, but they do differ slightly in their “exceptions” to the rules. For that reason, it is important that you read your own town’s curfew ordinance carefully and understand how it differs from the rules adopted by surrounding towns. Curfews ordinances can be found online in your town’s general information website or police department website.  Curfews do not change for the weekends, school breaks or summer vacations. Most towns impose curfews in the following manner: For children 15 and younger, curfew begins at 10 pm and continues until 5 am. For children 16 and 17, curfew begins at 12 am and continues until 5 am. For children 18 and older, there is no curfew but beware – 18 year olds in the company of younger teens could be considered “contributing to the delinquency of minors” if they’re in pubic together after curfew! It is also important to remember that Arizona’s new Teen Driver Safety Act makes it unlawful for any licensed driver under the age of 18 to drive between the hours of 12 am and 5 am.   Many exemptions apply, but this law gives police the authority to stop a driver on suspicion of violating the act. Unless the driver is involved in a legitimate emergency or otherwise exempt, two citations could be written — one for driving and one for curfew violation! Curfews are very unpopular with teens, and discussing their importance with your child can be quite challenging. Take courage in remembering that the law’s intent is the same as yours, to protect your children. Enlisting the help of other parents can be useful — if your child’s friends are bound by strict curfews, your child will likely comply as well. The bottom line for your family is that “the curfew lesson” is far better taught by parents than by police, and even strong-willed teenagers can agree with that.  If your teen has had trouble with the police for curfews, or other legal matters, please call the law firm of Davis Miles at 480-733-6800.
Your Family & The Law is an regular feature of Law Matters by Davis/Miles.   Teen Law School presents seminars for teens and parents to share information about our local, state and federal laws, and to help young people make healthy, law abiding choices. For more information about Teen Law School, or to attend an upcoming seminar, contact Claudia Gilburd at info@teenlawschool.com.