Facts About Curfews

Updated March 23, 2017

Curfews are laws that require people to be off the streets and in their homes by a certain time of night, and they must remain there until a specified time in the morning. Governments and local authorities impose curfews for a number of reasons, which may relate to a single person with a history of troublemaking, a group of specific people, such as minors, or the citizens of an entire country. Curfews are rarely permanent. Some curfews relating to premises restrict entry between certain times.


Hotels and hostels may require guests to return to their rooms before a certain time, after which they will lock the front door. According to the Hostels website, many hostels no longer enforce curfews. Many bars are legally required to impose curfews according to an area's licensing laws. Others may need to enforce curfews following instances of disruptive behaviour. In 2010, police in New Orleans enforced a curfew that operated between midnight and 6 a.m. on the bars and clubs on Bourbon Street and other French Quarter thoroughfares.


Minors in a number of American cities are subject to curfews, which the local authorities claim helps prevent disruptive behaviour. According to the National Youth Rights Association, however, there has never been any serious empirical study on the efficacy of curfew laws. In the Phoenix metropolitan area, the curfew is 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. for any aged under 15 and midnight to 5 a.m. for children aged 16 or 17, at the time of publication. Those caught breaking curfew will be arrested. According to the ABC news station 15, Phoenix police Lt. Jacquelyn MacConnell claims that there is a definitive link between underage kids out at night and crimes activity.

Civil Unrest

Governments may impose curfews in times of civil unrest. According to the National Youth Rights Association, Justice Douglas of the Supreme Court stated that curfew laws may be necessary when the security of the country is threatened, but that they raised serious questions regarding the rights of citizens to freely assemble. He suggested that any curfew laws should be narrowly defined and temporary.


Judicial curfews are sometimes imposed on criminals on probation. In the U.S., a condition of a person's bail may be to meet a police officer at the door of the agreed premises within the period of curfew, which is referred to as a doorstep condition, according to the Law Library. Curfews may also be imposed on defendants as a condition of pretrial release. Both defendants and probationers may incur the cost of monitoring their compliance with the curfew.

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About the Author

Justin Schamotta began writing in 2003. His articles have appeared in "New Internationalist," "Bizarre," "Windsurf Magazine," "Cadogan Travel Guides" and "Juno." He was a deputy editor at Corporate Watch and co-editor of "BULB" magazine. Schamotta has a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Plymouth University and a postgraduate diploma in journalism from Cardiff University.