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Originally published October 14, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified October 14, 2007 at 2:01 AM

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Pacific tries again with new curfew law

For years, Pacific hasn't been able to enforce its youth curfew because of a court ruling. And the kids have known it. Pacific Mayor Rich Hildreth...

Times Southeast Bureau

For years, Pacific hasn't been able to enforce its youth curfew because of a court ruling. And the kids have known it.

Pacific Mayor Rich Hildreth once caught a bunch of 10-year-olds in a city park at 4:30 a.m.

The Washington Supreme Court threw out a similarly worded curfew in Sumner four years ago because it was too vague, but Pacific recently passed a carefully worded juvenile-curfew ordinance, one the city hopes will keep kids out of trouble and hold up in court. It went into effect about a month ago.

"It's very clearly spelled out," Hildreth said.

After the 2003 Supreme Court ruling, Pacific stopped enforcing its curfew, he said.

Pacific's new curfew states that anyone under 18 cannot be in a public place from midnight to 6 a.m. There's a long list of specific exceptions to the curfew rule, including minors who are with a parent or legal guardian, running an errand for a parent or legal guardian or coming from or going to work or an adult-supervised organized activity.

According to the ordinance, if police catch kids out when they're not supposed to be, they can write a ticket for $75. The fees increase for multiple offenses within a one-year period.

This curfew more clearly specifies when kids can be out and when they can't, Hildreth said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represented the parent who challenged the Sumner curfew law, maintains that any juvenile curfew is unconstitutional.

"They're unconstitutional because they make it against the law simply to be outside," ACLU spokesman Doug Honig said. "They interfere with parents' rights to determine how to raise their own children."

The Seattle-based Washington chapter hasn't challenged Pacific's curfew, but that doesn't mean they support it, Honig said.

The point of the curfew ordinance isn't to get kids in trouble, Hildreth said; mostly, police will give warnings.

Tacoma and Auburn have juvenile curfews between midnight and 6 a.m. Federal Way is considering a similar one.

Lauren Vane: 253-234-8604 or lvane@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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