Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter III. Juvenile Curfew.


§ 2–1541. Findings and purpose.

(a) The Council of the District of Columbia (“Council”) has determined that there has been an increase in juvenile violence, juvenile gang activity, and crime by persons under the age of 17 years in the District of Columbia.

(b) The Council has determined that persons under the age of 17 years are particularly susceptible, because of their lack of maturity and experience, to participate in unlawful and gang-related activities and to be the victims of older perpetrators of crime.

(c) The Council has an obligation to provide for the protection of minors from each other and from other persons, for the enforcement of parental control over, and responsibility for, children, for the protection of the general public, and for the reduction of the incidence of juvenile criminal activities.

(d) The Council has determined that a curfew for those under the age of 17 years will be in the interest of the public health, safety, and general welfare and will help to attain these objectives and to diminish the undesirable impact of this conduct on the citizens of the District of Columbia.

(e) The Council determines that passage of a curfew law will protect the welfare of minors by:

(1) Reducing the likelihood that minors will be the victims of criminal acts during the curfew hours;

(2) Reducing the likelihood that minors will become involved in criminal acts or exposed to narcotics trafficking during the curfew hours; and

(3) Aiding parents or guardians in carrying out their responsibility to exercise reasonable supervision of minors entrusted to their care.


(Sept. 20, 1995, D.C. Law 11-48, § 2, 42 DCR 3627.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-2181.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) repeal expiration of this subchapter, see § 2 of the Juvenile Curfew and Retired Police Officer Redeployment Emergency Amendment Act of 1997 (D.C. Act 12-148, September 15, 1997, 44 DCR 5461).

For temporary (90 day) repeal of expiration of this subchapter, see § 2 of the Juvenile Curfew Emergency Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Act 12-345, April 27, 1998, 45 DCR 4616).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) repeal of § 6(b) of Law 11-48, see § 2 of Juvenile Curfew and Retired Police Officer Redeployment Temporary Amendment Act of 1997 (D.C. Law 12-45, February 26, 1998, law notification 45 DCR 1506).

For temporary (225 day) repeal of § 6(b) of Law 11-48, see § 2 of Juvenile Curfew Amendment Act of 1998 (D.C. Law 12-128, June 20, 1998, law notification 45 DCR 6499).


§ 2–1542. Definitions.

For the purposes of this subchapter, the term:

(1) “Curfew hours” means from 11:00 p.m. on any Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, until 6:00 a.m. on the following day, and from 12:01 a.m. until 6:00 a.m. on any Saturday or Sunday. During the months of July and August, the term “curfew hours” means from 12:01 a.m. until 6:00 a.m.

(2) “Emergency” means an unforeseen combination of circumstances or the resulting state that calls for immediate action. The term “emergency” includes, but is not limited to, a fire, a natural disaster, an automobile accident, or any situation that requires immediate action to prevent serious bodily injury or loss of life.

(3) “Establishment” means any privately-owned place of business operated for a profit to which the public is invited, including, but not limited to, any place of amusement or entertainment.

(4) “Guardian” means a person who, under court order, is the guardian of the person of a minor or a public or private agency with whom a minor has been placed by a court.

(5) “Minor” means any person under the age of 17 years, but does not include a judicially emancipated minor or a married minor.

(6) “Narcotic trafficking” means the act of engaging in any prohibited activity related to narcotic drugs or controlled substances as defined in Chapter 9 of Title 48.

(7) “Operator” means any individual, firm, association, partnership, or corporation that operates, manages, or conducts any establishment. The term “operator” includes the members or partners of an association or partnership and the officers of a corporation.

(8) “Parent” means a natural parent, adoptive parent or step-parent, or any person who has legal custody by court order or marriage, or any person not less than 21 years of age who is authorized by the natural parent, adoptive parent, step-parent or custodial parent of a child to be a caretaker for the child.

(9) “Public place” means any place to which the public, or a substantial group of the public, has access, and includes, but is not limited to, streets, highways, and the common areas of schools, hospitals, apartment houses, office buildings, transport facilities, and shops.

(10) “Remain” means to linger or stay or fail to leave the premises when requested to do so by a police officer or the owner, operator, or other person in control of the premises.

(11) “Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.


(Sept. 20, 1995, D.C. Law 11-48, § 3, 42 DCR 3627.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-2182.

Expiration of Law

Expiration of Law 11-48

See notes to § 2-1541.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition, see § 101 of Enhanced Crime Prevention and Abatement Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-446, July 21, 2006, 53 DCR 6477).


§ 2–1543. Curfew authority; defenses; enforcement and penalties.

(a)(1) A minor commits an offense if he or she remains in any public place or on the premises of any establishment within the District of Columbia during curfew hours.

(2) A parent or guardian of a minor commits an offense if he or she knowingly permits, or by insufficient control allows, the minor to remain in any public place or on the premises of any establishment within the District of Columbia during curfew hours.

(3) The owner, operator, or any employee of an establishment commits an offense if he or she knowingly allows a minor to remain upon the premises of the establishment during curfew hours.

(b)(1) It is a defense to prosecution under this subchapter that the minor was:

(A) Accompanied by the minor’s parent or guardian;

(B) On an errand at the direction of the minor’s parent or guardian, without any detour or stop;

(C) In a motor vehicle, train, or bus involved in interstate travel;

(D) Engaged in an employment activity pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 2 of Title 32 or going to, or returning home from, an employment activity, without any detour or stop;

(E) Involved in an emergency;

(F) On the sidewalk that abuts the minor’s residence or that abuts the residence of a next-door neighbor if the neighbor did not complain to the Metropolitan Police Department about the minor’s presence;

(G) In attendance at an official school, religious, or other recreational activity sponsored by the District of Columbia, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor, or going to, or returning home from, without any detour or stop, an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by the District of Columbia, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor; or

(H) Exercising First Amendment rights protected by the United States Constitution, including free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and the right of assembly.

(2) It is a defense to prosecution under subsection (a)(3) of this section that the owner, operator, or employee of an establishment promptly notified the Metropolitan Police Department that a minor was present on the premises of the establishment during curfew hours and refused to leave.

(c)(1) Before taking any enforcement action under this section, a police officer shall ask the apparent offender’s age and reason for being in the public place. The officer shall not issue a citation or make an arrest under this section unless the officer reasonably believes that an offense has occurred and that, based on any response and other circumstances, no defense in subsection (b) of this section is proffered or is present.

(2) If a police officer determines that a minor is committing a curfew offense, the police officer shall take the minor to the nearest available Police District headquarters or substation or other area designated by the Metropolitan Police Department.

(3) A minor who violates this subchapter shall be detained by the Metropolitan Police Department at the nearest available Police District headquarters or substation or other area designated by the Metropolitan Police Department and released into the custody of the minor’s parent, guardian, or an adult person acting in loco parentis. The minor’s parent or an adult person acting in loco parentis with respect to the minor shall be called to the Police District headquarters or substation or other designated area to take custody of the minor. A minor who is released to a person acting in loco parentis with respect to the minor shall not be taken into custody for violation of this subchapter while returning home with the person acting in loco parentis. If no one claims responsibility for the minor, the minor may be taken to the minor’s residence or placed in the custody of the appropriate official at the Family Services Administration of the Department of Human Services and, subsequently, released at 6:00 a.m. the following morning.

(d)(1) Any adult who violates a provision of this subchapter is guilty of a separate offense for each day, or part of a day, during which the violation is committed, continued, or permitted. Each offense, upon conviction, is punishable by a fine not to exceed $500 or community service.

(2) Parents or persons in loco parentis of the minor may, upon each conviction for violating this subchapter, be required to complete parenting classes pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 14 of Title 7 or Title 16.

(3) When required by § 16-2302, charges brought under this subchapter shall be transferred to the Family Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.

(4) A minor adjudicated of a violation of this subchapter by the Family Division of the Superior Court may be ordered to perform community service of up to 25 hours for each violation.

(e)(1) The Mayor shall report to the Council, not less than 90 days prior to the expiration of this subchapter, on the curfew’s effectiveness and shall recommend that the curfew either be continued or discontinued.

(2) The Mayor shall include the following in the report required by this subsection:

(A) The number of minors detained and the number of persons fined as a result of a violation of this subchapter;

(B) The number of criminal homicides and other narcotic trafficking related crimes of violence committed during the time that this subchapter is in effect by age of persons involved and by time of day;

(C) The number of minors injured during the curfew hours as a result of crime and the cause of each injury; and

(D) The District’s net cost of enforcing the ordinance.


(Sept. 20, 1995, D.C. Law 11-48, § 4, 42 DCR 3627.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-2183.

Expiration of Law

Expiration of Law 11-48

See notes to § 2-1541.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) addition of § 2-1553, see § 1402 of Fiscal Year 2003 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2002 (D.C. Act 14-453, July 23, 2002, 49 DCR 8026).

For temporary (90 day) enactments, see §§ 211 to 213 of Enhanced Crime Prevention and Abatement Emergency Amendment Act of 2006 (D.C. Act 16-446, July 21, 2006, 53 DCR 6477).

Editor's Notes

Establishment of Alternative Curfew Hours for Individuals Below the Age of 17 Under the Enhanced Crime Prevention and Abatement Emergency Amendment Act of 2006, see Mayor’s Order 2006-102, July 27, 2006 ( 53 DCR 6396).

Establishment of Alternate Curfew Hours for Individuals Below the Age of 17 Under the Enhanced Crime Prevention and Abatement Emergency Amendment Act of 2006, see Mayor’s Order 2006-113, August 29, 2006 ( 53 DCR 9542).

Establishment of Alternate Curfew Hours for Individuals Below the Age of 17 Under the Enhanced Crime Prevention and Abatement Emergency Amendment Act of 2006, see Mayor’s Order 2006-125, October 3, 2006 ( 53 DCR 9317).