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The Curfew Law for 16- and 17- Year-Olds

Regarding Prom Season

Each year DMV receives questions regarding how the teen driving curfew affects students participating in high school proms and school-sponsored events afterward. This exception does not apply to passenger restrictions. All laws regarding passenger restrictions remain in effect for 16 and 17-year-old drivers. 

These school-related activities usually end during the time when there is a curfew, which is from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., for 16 and 17 year-old drivers. (The curfew does not apply to drivers over 18 years-old.) DMV below attempts to give general guidance on how the curfew works when school-sponsored activities are involved. However, each case is decided on the facts of the circumstances. 

State law gives an exception for “school or religious activities” in Section 14-36g.  However, these are not defined in the statute and to date, no cases have come before the courts for interpretation of this language.  The language is quite broad, and DMV believes that the exception was intended to cover school-sponsored or sanctioned activities, whether on school grounds or off.  The exception would allow driving after curfew to or from an activity such as a prom or away game, provided that there is no intervening activity to which the student is driving. 

For example, a student would not be able to drive from the prom to a friend’s house, attend a post-prom party at the friend’s house, and then drive home.  It is reasonable to expect that a student would not be driving home from a prom at 2:00 a.m. when the prom ended at 11:00 p.m., and is in the same town.  If the student, however, was traveling to a school-sponsored post-prom party, then travel to the event from the prom and then from the event to home directly afterward would be allowed.

Many schools, though, hold proms and some post-prom parties in neighboring towns. The police departments in these towns may not know the out-of-town school’s prom schedule and school-sponsored post prom activities. To assist patrol officers in making a determination of whether an exception to curfew applies, the DMV suggests that the police departments in hosting towns be given advance notification of the prom itinerary by the sponsoring school district, and/or that students be provided with an official schedule of school-sponsored prom activities to carry in their vehicles.