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Pasco reviewing outdated, unenforceable juvenile curfew

Tri-City Herald

Pasco officials may lift the ordinance that prohibits juveniles from being out on public streets and in city parks between midnight and 5 a.m.

The city’s juvenile curfew was enacted in 1994, at the height of gang warfare, graffiti and other crime.

However, Pasco no longer enforces the curfew, because case law over the years suggests such restrictions could be in violation of both the Washington state and U.S. constitutions.

City Attorney Leland Kerr said the issues are mostly with “vagueness” and one’s guaranteed right to privacy.

Courts have found that curfews are an unreasonable prohibition because they infringe upon a “minor’s fundamental freedom of movement and expression.”

The Pasco Municipal Code had made it a civil infraction for any juvenile “to knowingly remain, walk, run, stand, drive or ride about” in a public place or on the premises of an establishment during curfew hours.

When the ordinance was created, it was for the safety of juveniles and of other people and property, Kerr said.

Now, the benefits achieved from it don’t sufficiently justify the risk associated with enforcing it, he said.

The curfew includes a long list of exceptions, such as being with a parent or responsible adult, running an errand for their parent, attending a supervised school or religious activity, and being married or an emancipated minor.

City Manager Dave Zabell said a curfew was shot down in Marysville almost 20 years ago, in Yakima 10 years ago and in Fife about four years ago.

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