MB curfew law no longer in effect

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Brandon Herring - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Earlier this week the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled the Myrtle Beach helmet law to be invalid and that decision is affecting other laws as well.

One of those laws is the city's curfew. It was included in the lawsuit because it was passed at the same time. The curfew required everyone 17 and under to be inside from 1 a.m. until 6 a.m.

Violations were considered infractions, but the Supreme Court says the curfew can only be enforced if violations are considered misdemeanors.

Until the change is made, the curfew will not be enforced, Myrtle Beach spokesperson Mark Kruea says, and making the change could mean harsher penalties.

"The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is up to $500 and/or 30 days in jail," Kruea said. "So potentially it can be a stronger, much stronger penalty than a simple $100 fine. The administrative infraction carried no possibility of jail time."

The lapse in the curfew comes just in time for senior week when recent high school graduates come to Myrtle Beach. While many graduates are 18 and would not be affected by the curfew, some of them and their friends are 17 or younger.

"I like it that it's beach week and there's not a curfew because you don't have to worry about being in trouble, I guess," said Amber Young, who just graduated from high school in Virginia said came to Myrtle Beach with her 17-year-old friend Lindsay Pickeral.

Kayla Schoutube, 16, of Conway, had similar thoughts. She works in Myrtle Beach during the day and says she may take advantage of not having to obey the curfew for a while.

"I probably will be out here much later now that there's no actual enforcement for it," Schoutube said.

All three girls say they usually follow their own curfew agreed upon with their parents, so they are not convinced a curfew is even necessary. However, they say they understand the reason behind it.

"Some people I guess can't handle being responsible," Pickeral said.

Hotel manager Ray Booth agrees with the teenagers that a curfew may not be necessary. He says he sees fewer young people out in Myrtle Beach these days anyway, so he does not think the lapse in curfew will really be noticed.

"I don't think the kids that are out on the street are under the age of 18 to start with," Booth said. "Most of them are in by then. It's the ones that are over 18 that are out here."

This could mean young people are policing themselves. Booth says he thinks enforcement is lacking and that is another reason he probably will not notice a lapse in the curfew. He said the few young people who do violate the curfew do not get in trouble.

Kruea says city council members will discuss the change at their next meeting and it will take two readings to change the law, meaning it could be about a month before the curfew is in affect again.

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