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Curfew now 10 p.m. for juveniles

The juvenile curfew for the County of San Diego’s unincorporated areas, which includes the Fallbrook area, changed to 10 p.m. as of April 22. The curfew had prohibited a minor unaccompanied by an adult in any public place or in the premises of any establishment between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. prior to the recent San Diego County Board of Supervisors action. During the February 23 introduction and first reading of the ordinance, the supervisors voted to retain the 11 p.m. curfew on Fridays and Saturdays, but instead of a second reading and adoption during the supervisors’ March 2 meeting the 10 o’clock curfew was adopted for all seven days with the list of exemptions broadened.

“We just clarified the ordinance,” said Supervisor Dianne Jacob.

The March 2 changes made the amended curfew, along with its exceptions, a new introduction and first reading, and the second reading and adoption was approved March 23. A county ordinance or ordinance amendment (other than a Zoning Ordinance amendment, which does not require a second reading and becomes effective immediately) takes effect 30 days after its adoption.

During a January 2010 curfew sweep in Spring Valley, more than 30 high-risk juveniles were removed from the streets. “We learned a lot during this curfew sweep,” Jacob said.

Some incorporated cities have 11 p.m. juvenile curfews while others, including the City of San Diego, have 10 p.m. curfews. Law enforcement personnel had noticed loitering juveniles move to areas of unincorporated San Diego County to avoid 10 p.m. curfews. “This action will remove that incentive,” Jacob said of the 10 p.m. curfew.

“What is necessary is the consistency of the time,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. “It is a tool for law enforcement that is absolutely necessary.”

The question arose about legitimate activities following high school football games or dances, which led to a 3-2 vote February 23 to retain the 11 o’clock weekend curfew. At the March 2 meeting the seven-day 10 o’clock curfew was reinstated while the specified exemptions were changed to allow an errand or travel in connection with activities at the direction or with the permission of the minor’s parent, guardian, or responsible adult. That change also replaced the exemption to travel home “without any detour or stop,” thus also legalizing bus or trolley transfers for youths who leave work after bus and trolley lines cut their frequencies.

Specific exemptions are also provided for minors in a motor vehicle involved in interstate travel, engaged in employment or educational activities or returning home for such activities, involved in an emergency, on a sidewalk abutting the minor’s residence, attending official activities supervised by at least one adult and sponsored by a government or civic organization or other entity assuming responsibility for the minor, or exercising First Amendment rights protected by the United States Constitution (for example, a political activity) or traveling to or from activities involving an exercise of First Amendment rights. An emancipated minor is also exempt from the curfew.

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