The District of Columbia now has a curfew for all persons under the age of 17. It is important for you and your family to know what the law says, how it is being enforced, and what alternative programs there are for young people.
What does the law say?
The Juvenile Curfew Act of 1995 (DC Code 2-1541 et. seq.) states that persons under the age of 17 cannot remain in or on a street, park or other outdoor public place, in a vehicle or on the premises of any establishment within the District of Columbia during curfew hours, unless they are involved in certain exempted activities.
What are the curfew hours?
For the months of September through June:
- Curfew begins at 11 pm on Sunday through Thursday nights, and continues until 6 am the following day
- Curfew hours are 12:01 am to 6 am on Saturday and Sunday (curfew on "Friday night" begins at 12:01 am Saturday; curfew on "Saturday night" begins at 12:01 am Sunday)
During July and August only:
Curfew hours are 12:01 am to 6 am, seven days a week
Does the curfew law apply to non-District residents?
Yes. The curfew law applies to all persons under the age of 17 who are in the District of Columbia during curfew hours. This includes both District residents as well as young people who reside elsewhere.
What are the penalties for violating the law?
A parent or legal guardian of a juvenile under the age of 17 commits an offense if he or she knowingly permits, or by insufficient control allows, the minor to violate the curfew law. Any adult who violates the Juvenile Curfew Act is subject to a fine not to exceed $500 or community service. A minor who violates curfew may be ordered to perform up to 25 hours of community service.
Persons under the age of 17 are exempt from curfew if they:
- Accompany a parent or guardian
- Complete an errand at the direction of a parent or guardian, without detour or stop
- Ride in a motor vehicle involved in interstate travel
- Work or return home from a job, without detour or stop
- Become involved in an emergency
- Stand on a sidewalk that joins their residence or the residence of a next-door neighbor, if the neighbor did not complain to police
- Attend an official school, religious, or other recreational activity sponsored by the District of Columbia, a civic organization, or other similar group that takes responsibility for the juvenile (this includes traveling to and from the activity)
- Exercise their First Amendment rights protected by the US Constitution, including the free exercise of speech, religion, and right of assembly
Why is the curfew law being enforced now?
Passed in 1995, DC's curfew law was set up to protect the health and safety of young people and our communities. After the law was challenged in court, MPD stopped enforcement until the court decided whether the law was constitutional. In June 1999, the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the law to be constitutional. The District began enforcing the law again in the fall of 1999.
What alternative programs are there for young people?
The District of Columbia has a variety of programs and centers that serve young people seeking alternatives to being on the streets, including social, educational, recreational, and counseling services. For more programs, call the District's Answers Please! helpline at (202) INFO-211 (463-6211) or online at answersplease.dc.gov.
For more information on programs and safety tips for young people, contact: