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Passenger refuses to produce ID on traffic stop.

I've been talking with a member of this forum who wants to know what would happen if he was in the passenger seat of a car that was stopped for a simple traffic violation. Once stopped the officer(s) ask them for their ID, to which he politely refuses.

What happens from this point in your area of the world?


  • As long as the officer is legally investigating a crime ie traffic infraction, all parties are required to identify themselves to law enforcement. We have a code for failure to provide identification to law enforcement, or obstruction of justice because they are now drawing your attention away from the original infraction.
  • Resisting officer without violence. Bookem' Danno.
  • In our state, if an officer pulls over a vehicle for a traffic violation he is only allowed to contact the driver and ask for identification. Unless the passenger is violating a traffic law, as in not wearing a seatbelt, then the passenger may be contacted.
  • In Oklahoma, you are not required by law to produce identification upon request. As a Driver you are required to produce a license upon request. As a passenger, they must merely tell you their name. If they refuse to identify themselves then they could possibly be interfering with an investigation.
  • edited 17 Jan 2013
    The United States Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, citing Hiibel concluded that arresting a passenger for refusing to identify himself/herself where the officer has no independent reasonable suspicion to believe that the passenger is involved in criminal activity does violate the Constitution. Absent a state law, an officer is certainly free to ask, but you're not under a legal obligation to comply. That being said, whether it's right or wrong, you're a lot more likely to have a good day by complying than by fighting with the officer.

    It is slightly odd that this post is verbatim the same as a 2008 post on (
  • AmberA if that is the case, then what do you do if the driver doesn't have a license and you want to confirm the passenger has a valid license to drive?
  • edited 17 Jan 2013
    earlieg, the fact that you are choosing (based on your department policy) to let the passenger drive rather than booting everyone out and towing the car, does not suddenly change the rights of the passenger. They are not under an obligation to prove to you that they are licensed in order to drive the car away. Your alternative is to tow the car. Unless they are the subject of a Terry stop (not applicable in this situation) or a driver you stopped for a traffic violation, they don't owe you an ID... even though you'd really like to convince them they do.
  • At that point, the passenger becomes a driver and must provide the information or he will not be allowed to take control of the vehicle.
  • edited 17 Jan 2013
    mellb, I'm going to run to the store in a few minutes. Do I have an legal obligation to find an officer and demonstrate that I'm licensed before I can drive my car? Of course not. You may not LET them take control of the car, meaning you might choose to tow it, but that doesn't mean they have a legal obligation to show you a driver's license. They can legally refuse and you can tow the car. They do not violate any law by taking that course of action.
  • earlieg, If the driver does not have a license to drive they would be cited and you would confirm with them if they wanted their passenger to drive their vehicle. If that were the case and the passenger agrees you are then able to ask for ID to make sure they are clear to drive.
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  • In my state you must exhibit on demand of the Officer, if you refuse your gonna be arrested for resisting without :)
  • edited 17 Jan 2013
    coperusa, I would bet you are mistaken. In what state are you? Let's take a look.
  • if a passenger agrees to take possession of the vehicle the Officer in my department must confirm he is licensed to drive. i mean imagine if i allowed someone to drive away and they run over and kill a pedestrian down the road....???
  • edited 17 Jan 2013
    Right, so your departmental policy requires that you can only release a motor vehicle during a traffic stop in which the original driver is unable to continue driving to someone who has a valid license. This does NOT mean the passenger who agrees to take the vehicle is required to show you identification. He or she can refuse, and you can in turn decide that you can't (won't is a more accurate term, as you lawfully could if your department policy didn't instruct you not to do so) release the car. Those are very different things. You can't then (rightfully) charge them with a crime for not producing a valid drivers license.

    More importantly, it's worth pointing out that the scenario you responded with is totally different from your original claim that suggests you have a blanket right to demand ID from someone. That also is untrue, and if you're effecting a physical arrest (remember, click click?) as a result, you have bigger issues to address.
  • I am a law professor and teach Criminal Procedure. This is not a difficult question. Just because your State law or department policy says something does not make it Constitutional. Under the Hibbel case that was mentioned previously, in order to enforce a state law that requires a person to identify themselves to the police, the officer has to have reasonable suspicion that the person from whom the id is requests is committing, just committed, or is about to commit a crime. That's the same Terry v. Ohio standard. Absent reasonable suspicion that the passenger is involved in criminal activity, an arrest or citation for failure to identify would be Unconstitutional--state law or department policy notwithstanding.
  • A 1977 Supreme Court ruling (Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 U.S. 106) says that we have the authority to control passengers of vehicles involved in a traffic stop. A 2009 ruling Arizona v. Johnson addresses frisking and searching. However, passengers have 4th amendment protection under a 2007 ruling Brendlin v. California and are not required to identify themselves or even interact with a police officer on a traffic stop. There are numerous State Court rulings that are in favor of passenger rights, however, the U.S. Supreme Court not weighed in on this specific topic. Without an arrest, we cannot force the passenger to ID themselves. There are numerous cases regarding "frisk" and "pat downs", but not IDing unless the passenger is under arrest. Where I work (Texas), we commonly ID the passenger. I have never been refused ID funny enough in my 18 years. Most citizen passengers probably don't realize they could refuse us.
  • @Tex, you're probably right, most citizens don't know. I've had friends tell me that it is illegal not to produce I.D. on demand and that the officer can detain you until they can prove you're not wanted. This just ain't so. As it was mentioned earlier, you can ask but have no recourse if you're told no. Same as with a warrantless search, in fact it is considered the exact same thing. You may ask all day long to search a vehicle during a traffic stop, but without probable cause you must get permission. If the driver says go ahead, no harm no foul. If a passenger produces identification, great. But they're not automatically a suspect now if they refuse and refusal to identify yourself is not in and of itself considered reasonable suspicion of anything.

    For all of the officers saying the laws in their jurisdiction say otherwise, I strongly suggest you look into this more deeply. It is the responsibility of every police officer to not enforce any law that is unconstitutional. This is for your own safety. If you try that with someone who knows their rights, and is an asshole about it, they can sue you for violating their civil liberties as defined by the Constitution. They will win and the politicians will throw you under the bus in a heartbeat. Don't allow yourselves to be put in jeopardy over enforcing of unconstitutional laws. This is not directed at anyone here, but a lot of police don't really know the law. Don't allow yourselves to be one of them. It is the duty of every law enforcement officer to protect the Constitution of the United States and to stand by the rulings of the courts over us.

    There are a lot of very good answers here, but JDCLF is absolutely correct in everything he says regarding case law and the Constitution. lpd is a law professor, listen to him. In fact, if he is willing, I urge every officer here to go to him with anything they're unsure about to make sure their actions are always within the law. Watching your six means more than just making sure someone isn't trying to shoot it off.
  • in WI, passenger doesn't have to provide ID. If driver has no ID, we can take them to jail for fastID. If passenger wants to drive from stop, then they would have to ID themself for officer to be sure they are valid to drive.
  • In Colorado: I ask the driver for their driver's license. Passengers are only asked for their ID under the following conditions:

    1 - Driver is a party to a protection order and the passenger matches the gender of the other party to the protection order. If both parties are on the protection order, the violator goes to jail. If the name of the passenger does NOT match, the passenger gets their ID back.

    2 - Driver will not be able to drive the car after the stop (no license, FTA warrant, etc.) At MY discretion, I can either tow the car or let the passenger drive away. I do have the option of checking the passenger's status as a driver (asking for driver's license). If clear and valid, I can let the passenger drive the car as long as the driver/owner gives their permission. If either party refuses, the car gets towed.
  • @MountainCop

    I'm sure you know this, but that's called reasonable suspicion. You're completely within your duty to require identification in those instances. Another scenario, there's a report of an armed robbery and the suspect matches the passenger of your routine traffic stop. You are well within your rights and responsibilities to identify that person to make sure he's not the robbery suspect. Also, if you tell me I match a robbery suspect, and I didn't do it, I'm going to be inclined to cooperate because I don't want to go to jail.
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  • Here in Ohio, you must have probable cause to force a passenger to show ID. I generally attempt to ID everyone on every stop, however if a passenger refuses to identify themselves and I don't have pc then I cannot force them.
  • WOAHHH! Those of you thinking about charging a passenger for failure to ID themselves better look closer at the laws involved. Drivers are required to produce a drivers license. Passengers are not under the same obligation if you have no solid, legal reason for asking. There are a lot of folks out there that would love for you to try it so they can sue your butt off. Make sure you have PC before you start reaching.
  • in most cases including myself if an officer is asking the passenger for id he usually has a valid reason to ...such as the driver has no license or is driving on a suspended one , there is a list of things that could go on in a traffic stop that would require the officer to ask for id from the passenger . Now if you fail to comply with the officers request you are automaticaly puting suspicion on yourself . If you have nothing to hide then you would have no reason not to comply with what the officer is asking you to do .
  • Seeing that in most states we as of yet have no Government provided for free identification papers, short of asking thier names there isn't much you can do. Legally you can not ask for a ssn as that information is for use by the SSA only. (yeah right)
  • I can only think of one occasion where a passenger has refused to provide ID on a stop. I was speaking with the driver back at my cruiser when I notice the city officer backing me is loudly arguing with the front seat passenger and threatening that I will arrest him for obstructing if he doesn't give his info. The passenger correctly asserts he is not legally required to provide any information. I pull him out and speak with him calmly and respectfully and he readily gave me his information. Before getting back into the car, the passenger looked at the city officer and said "Next time don't treat me like a f*cking idiot and you might get somewhere." Just goes to show sometimes it's all in the approach.
  • "Now if you fail to comply with the officers request you are automaticaly puting suspicion on yourself . If you have nothing to hide then you would have no reason not to comply with what the officer is asking you to do ."

    Some folks just like to let us know what our limitations are and aren't necessarily trying to hide something. They are just being new age smart a$$e$ This is common among first year Criminal Justice students at your local college. These are the same idiots that tell you that you have to read them their rights when you take them to jail for public drunk, DUI or some other minor infraction.
    (yes I know in some states you have to read the Miranda card to them for DUI, but not where I am. We have to read "implied consent" to them)
  • If you have not committed an offence why should you comply with the officers request for identification? In the UK, passengers are checked at the same time as the driver is as a matter of routine.As they say,you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide.I suppose you will get those who think that they are being smart in trying to tell the officers that they will not comply with his request.If it is the law then a lecture by the officer/s should be forthcoming and if necessary tell him that the law requires it and if you don't comply them you will be arrested as you are failing to provide the necessary information as to whom you are and where you can be found eg (address).
  • Sorry, but the 'nothing to fear nothing to hide' philosophy doesn't buy it with me. Before a certain point (reasonable suspicion), there are some things I won't assume - and that is one of them. As for the first year CJ students, I admit I do like jacking them around a bit :) I call it a perk of the job...
  • pmtpmt
    edited 3 Mar 2015
    An officer needs to know their limits BEFORE an interaction begins. Then be willing to walk away when they have reached them. The case in Indiana last Oct. where the officer made a seat belt stop. According to IN law and the Indiana Supreme court, the officers had no authority to ask the passenger for ID during a seat belt stop. The officer was wrong from the start. They exceeded their authority and ended up breaking the window and tazing the passenger. Then they piled on bogus charges. Read up on the encounter and tell me what you think!
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