By Jed McKeehan

So most of us have heard that a child curfew law has been passed in Tennessee. In Tennessee, the child curfew statute is Tennessee Code Annotated 39-17-1702.

What does that statute say? If someone is 17 or 18 years old, they can’t be out in public past 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or 12 a.m. Friday through Sunday.

If someone is 16 or younger, they are not to be out in public past 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

If a parent or guardian knows that a child is out past these curfew times, then they are breaking the law. Of course, there are exceptions to this law. If the children are with a parent, if the child is on an errand, if the child is at an actual job, or going to and from a school activity. There are some other exceptions when minors can be out past curfew, but those are some of the main ones.

So what’s the punishment if the curfew law is violated? The police have choices as to what they can do. They can either take the child home, issue a summons and demand that the child and their parents go to juvenile court, or take the child in to custody and transport them to the juvenile detention center.

If a parent is charged with allowing the curfew law to be violated, they can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, the lowest class of misdemeanor in Tennessee, but still punishable by a $50.00 fine and up to a maximum of 30 days in jail.

What’s interesting about this law to me is that it applies to 18 years old, who are considered adults in the United States. When someone is 18, they can be charged with crimes as adults, and can serve our country in the military, yet apparently they are still supposed to comply with curfew laws in Tennessee.


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.