Approximately 500 American cities had curfew laws in 2009, and most apply to kids younger than 18, according to Tony Favro, a fellow of the City Mayors Foundation. Curfew laws attempt to keep children home and away from public areas during certain hours, but Favro notes research on the effectiveness of curfews shows problems in collecting and evaluating evidence. Utah has a basic state law but also allows towns and cities to adopt individual curfew regulations for controlling teen movement in public and semipublic places during specific times.
Utah's general curfew applies to all kids younger than 18 years old between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. on all days of the week. County and municipality laws that differ from state curfew rules have priority. The city of Layton, for instance, begins the local curfew for minors at midnight, a time that aligns with the state law, but allows teens unrestricted access to public locations at 5 a.m., an hour earlier than the state curfew law. Parents must also make a reasonable attempt to control teen behavior under state law.
Limits and Exclusions
Utah curfew laws exclude married teenagers younger than 18 and teens of any age in public when accompanied by parents or guardians. Teenagers involved in exercising constitutional First Amendment rights or rights given to Utah residents under the Utah Constitution, Article 1, Section 1, also have immunity from arrest and prosecution for curfew violations. These exemptions allow minors walking a picket line to avoid punishment under state or local curfew laws. Teenagers on school, recreational, or religious trips under adult supervision can participate in activities and ignore the legal curfew times.
Public and Semipublic Places
Utah's general curfew statute makes a distinction between teens in public and semipublic places. Teenagers in private homes don't need to worry about curfew times, but the travel between home and the private location comes under legal restrictions as a semiprivate area. Teens traveling with a parent or with another adult with permission from a parent have a legal pass under Section 76-10-2201 of the state's legal curfew law S.B. 42.
Punishment and Consequences
Utah police officers have discretion under state curfew law to approve teens' actions after dark. State law requires officers to ask teens for a reason for the violation. Law enforcement officers can release teens with excuses that meet state statute, but they must return them to their legal residences when excuses don't allow the teens to remain in public after curfew hours. Teenagers violating Utah's curfew laws come under the jurisdiction of law enforcement, not the juvenile courts. Punishments for both parents and teens include possible community service of not more than 10 hours and assigned counseling sessions.