Curfew may seem like a dated concept, but the idea came back into fashion in the big way in the late 1990s, with new laws enacted in states ranging from Hawaii to Tennessee. As of 2013, Tennessee's curfew laws vary depending on the county, age of the minor, time of the year and other factors. In March of the same year, the Annie E. Casey Foundation reported that national juvenile detention rates were at their lowest in 35 years, with Tennessee exhibiting the biggest drop -- it is unclear how big a role that curfew has played, but it's safe to assume that curfews didn't hurt.
In some Tennessee counties, teens aged 17 and 18 cannot be in public, which includes highways, streets, parks or vacant lots -- between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., Monday through Thursday, or 12:00 a.m. through 6:00 a.m., Friday through Sunday. For minors ages 16 and under, the hours are 10:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m., respectively.
Curfew laws in Tennessee vary slightly per county. For instance, the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County areas enforce curfew only until 5:00 a.m., not 6:00 a.m. Rather than making distinctions for different age groups, curfew in these areas applies to all persons under the age of 18. However, these curfew laws change a bit, depending on the season. In June, July and August, curfew is slightly more lax, extending from 12:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. every day of the week.
Tennessee teens are free to appear in public during curfew hours if accompanied by a parent or guardian. Counties also make exceptions for teens going to and from work or religious, volunteer, or educational events. Typically, these laws give teens a 30- to 45-minute grace period while they are in transit from the event in question, but sometimes, these exceptions do not apply past a certain hour. Teens can be in the immediate vicinity of their residence or running errands for their parents during curfew hours up to a certain time, such as 12:30 a.m. in some counties.
In Tennessee, parents must not knowingly permit their teens to break curfew laws. First curfew violations usually warrant a warning, and possibly a police escort home. After the first incident, teen offenders may be summoned to appear in juvenile court and possibly sentenced to community service. As a misdemeanor crime, Tennessee curfew fines run $50 per offense, as of March 2013.
- United States Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs: Juvenile Reform Initiatives in the States, 1994-1996
- Law for Kids: Curfew
- KnoxNews.com: Tennessee Leads in Shrinking Juvenile Detention Rate
- Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth: Tennessee Compilation of Selected Laws on Children, Youth and Families, 2011 Edition: Title 39 Criminal Offenses: Chapter 17 Offenses Against Public Health, Safety and Welfare: Part 17 Child Curfew
- Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Juvenile Court: Do You Know Juvenile Law?
- ABC News 2, WKRN-TV Nashville: Police Remind Teens, Parents of Reinstated Juvenile Curfew
- Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images