Some cities and counties enact curfew laws to limit crime in the municipality and to reduce nuisances, such as noise, for other residents. Travis County, whose county seat is the capital city of Austin, has passed such curfew laws for teenagers, limiting where they can be during certain day and night time hours. Teenagers who violate these curfew laws can face fines and penalties.
Texas curfew laws, which are enacted in Travis County, state that anyone under 17 is not allowed to be in any public place between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. on any day of the week. On weekdays, those 17 and under are also not allowed to be in any public place outside of school between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Some local city ordinances may vary from the county and state-wide ordinance. For example, in Austin, the curfew is from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the week. The city also observes the day-time curfew.
Reasons for the Curfew
Curfews for teenagers in Texas are designed to curb crime in those municipalities. The Austin constable issued a report that said the juvenile curfew was adopted in the city in 1995 in response to rapidly rising rates of crime committed by young people, and that it was intended to express a "zero tolerance" attitude toward juvenile crime. However, the Travis County Department of Health and Human Services says most juvenile crime occurs in the hours directly after school, suggesting that after-school programs might have more impact on reducing crime than a curfew.
There are many exceptions in which teens may be out during curfew hours. Minors who are accompanied by a parent or guardian or on an errand directed by a parent or guardian are exempt. Minors who are coming to and from work, are engaged in lawful employment, or are attending a school, religious or government activity are exempt. Other exemptions include emergency situations or being on a public sidewalk in front of his or her own residence. The day-time curfew is not in effect during school vacations and holidays.
Minors who violate the curfew law can face fines of up to $500. Parents can also be held responsible if they knowingly allow their children to violate the curfew -- outside of the stated exemptions. Other potential penalties can include community service, loss of driving privileges and even possible jail time. More serious penalties are typically reserved for repeat offenders.