Curfew proposed in suburbs for youth under 17


Lawmakers in Howard, Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties want to keep their suburbs quiet by creating a youth curfew zone across much of Central Maryland.

Dels. Frank S. Turner of Howard and Marsha G. Perry of Anne Arundel have drafted legislation that would require youths younger than 17 in their counties to be off the streets and in their homes from midnight to 6 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. other days -- or their parents could be fined.

It also would be in effect 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on school days.

Members of the Prince George's County Council are expected to approve similar legislation in the next couple of weeks.

Mr. Turner says the curfews would bring some peace and quiet to the three counties. "I think it'll have some impact on the whole region," he said.

Youths "are not going to like my bill," but he believes it will help stem juvenile crime.

Baltimore, Washington and Laurel have curfews. Some praise the proposal, which is in draft form, as a move to address fears of rising juvenile crime in the suburbs. But others -- particularly some youths -- aren't happy about it.

"I don't want to be told to go home when I'm out at midnight," said Bryan Schultz, 16, of Columbia. "As long as you're not making too much noise and bothering the neighbors, what difference does it make?"

Mr. Turner and Ms. Perry say their bill also would help reduce teen-age substance abuse and underage drinking, and keep youths in classes.

"I think it's a preventive-type bill," Mr. Turner said. "I don't want to wait until things get out of hand."

The bill would make exceptions for youths in emergency situations, on errands for their parents or on interstate travel.

When youths violate the curfew, parents would be fined $50 for a first offense and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Owners of public places where the youths are found -- such as a restaurant -- would be fined the same amounts.

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