City Council amends curfew for teenagers

Breanne Gilpatrick

Evanston teens now have a list of reasons to be out late at night thanks to an Indiana court decision and the Evanston City Council.

According to the city clerk’s office, the City Council voted 8-0 on Aug. 16 in favor of an ordinance that would allow minors to be out after the city curfew under certain circumstances. Ald. Joseph Kent (5th) was absent from the meeting.

Under the previous curfew ordinance, people under the age of 17 could not be out after midnight on Friday and Saturday nights or after 11 p.m. during the other days of the week.

With the new curfew law, minors will be able to be out after curfew for reasons such as attending an official school or religious function or going to or from work.

Evanston’s ordinance was modeled after Chicago’s curfew law, and a minor violating the new law can be fined between $10 and $750.

The city’s Administration and Public Works Committee began discussing the new curfew ordinance in July after the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in January found unconstitutional an Indiana curfew law that was similar to the former Evanston ordinance.

Ald. Edmund Moran (6th), who voted in favor of the revised ordinance, said he thinks that in some respects the new ordinance is an improvement, but he said there still could be some potential problems.

Moran said he approves of some of the new curfew exceptions — such as the exception that allows minors to be out if they are with their parents or if they are attending a religious function. But he worried that some of the new curfew exceptions, are not well defined.

For example, one exception allows minors to be out after curfew if they are exercising their First Amendment rights. This would allow a minor to be out if they are campaigning or if they are involved in a political demonstration.

“I mean (political demonstration) is an awfully jiggy statement,” Moran said.

“I can foresee people saying just on the breadth of the statement, ‘Who can say I wasn’t out making a political statement?’ And I would say that’s a pretty large tarp to throw over this.”

Reach Breanne Gilpatrick at [email protected]