Teens and children younger than 18 and their parents need to be aware that there are curfew laws in the valley, but they aren't enforced haphazardly, valley police officials said.
For instance, it's unlikely a 17-year-old stopping at the corner store for a gallon of milk is going to end up in the back of a squad car.
"Police officers have their discretion to handle a curfew violation in a number of ways," said Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department spokesman Jose Hernandez. "A juvenile can be cited or arrested, but generally speaking, how it's handled is a matter of common sense, and they'll probably just be warned and told to go home. Often we'll call the parent and say, 'Do you know your kid's out here roaming the streets after midnight?' "
The curfew regulations are similar in the cities of North Las Vegas, Henderson and Las Vegas , with identical curfew times. Anyone younger than 18 not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian must be off the streets and out of public areas between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and between midnight and 5 a.m. Friday and Saturday, legal holidays and during summer vacation.
Clark County has special curfew times for the Las Vegas Strip and nearby areas. The times are the same as the rest of the valley Sunday through Thursday, but on Fridays, Saturdays and legal holidays, the curfew is expanded, prohibiting juveniles from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Unlike the rest of the valley, summer vacation exceptions do not apply to t he Strip.
Hernandez said there are exceptions. Juveniles legally employed have a half-hour before and after work to commute. The law also takes into consideration travel time from a place of public entertainment, such as a movie or a sporting event. There is also an exception made for a child involved in interstate travel with a parent's or a legal guardian's consent.
"As long as they're on their way home, they're fine," Hernandez said. "Juveniles working on or near the Strip should have a written statement from their employers attesting to the hours they are working there."
City of North Las Vegas Police Department spokeswoman Chrissie Coon said the law doesn't permit parents or legal guardians to allow their children to be out after curfew.
"This is a big misunderstanding," Coon said. "For instance, if a kid is visiting a friend, a parent can't give the kid permission to walk home after midnight. It does happen."
Keith Paul, spokesman for the Henderson Police Department, said that very often, the curfew is used as a tool to keep kids on the straight and narrow.
"It allows officers to stop juveniles who are out after hours or in places they shouldn't be," Paul said. "They use it to keep kids from getting into trouble and winding up with something worse than a curfew violation ."
He added that Henderson police have issued 25 citations for curfew violations since January , but Paul, Hernandez and Coon said a juvenile is much more likely to be spoken to than cited.
"Typically, it will be kids out in the skate park or out horsing around," Paul said. "A lot of the time, the officer s will just talk to them, give them a warning and send them home or call their parents to pick them up."
Coon said curfew laws are frequently used when officers respond to a loud party that spills out into a public space. The possibility of a curfew violation charge might be enough to convince juveniles that it's time to go home or call for a ride.
Paul said curfew violation charges are sometimes applied when a juvenile is charged with a more serious offense.
"A curfew violation charge may be added if a juvenile is caught doing something like breaking into cars," Coon said.
Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 380-4532.