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Along for the Ride: Do Passengers Need to Show ID During a Traffic Stop?

You lost your wallet, and therefore your driver’s license. Not to worry though; you’ve secured a ride with your friend for the night. On the way home, your friend’s driving catches the eye of a police officer, who orders your friend to pull over. Are you in jeopardy of being arrested because you do not have your ID?Taking-License-300x174.jpg

You Have the Right to Refuse to Show Your ID

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that so-called “stop and identify” statutes, which require that you show identification to law enforcement officers when they ask, do not violate Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, so long as the officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in criminal activity.1

However, not every state has a law requiring that a person who is stopped provide identification. Under California law, a police officer cannot lawfully arrest you for the sole reason that you were unable or refused to produce identification upon his or her request. While this will not guarantee that you will not suffer the inconvenience of being arrested – unlawful arrests do happen – it does mean that an arrest based solely on your refusal or inability to produce your ID will not hold up in court.

Am I Required to Carry ID as a Passenger?

If you cannot be lawfully arrested for the sole reason that you were not carrying your ID, it stands to reason that you can be arrested for failing to show ID when the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you were involved in criminal activity.

Using the example above, suppose that your friend had a small amount of marijuana in a bag sitting on the back seat. The officer sees it, and when he asks who the marijuana belongs to, you and your friend both remain silent. The officer asks you for your identification. If you cannot or refuse to produce your ID, the officer has reasonable suspicion to support his decision to arrest you under California Penal Code Section 148 for resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer. Even if the marijuana is proven to belong to your friend, you could face charges under PC 148.

So while you are not required to carry your ID when riding as a passenger in California, there are potential legal consequences for refusing to show your driver’s license or identification. While it may be inconvenient, and it is not required, carrying your ID with you as a passenger is nevertheless a good idea that could save you from some unwanted trouble with the law.

Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you are facing criminal charges, hiring an experienced and skilled defense attorney is your best way to avoid a criminal conviction. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 35 years of experience successfully defending our clients facing criminal charges. We know how to raise challenges to the officer’s conduct during your arrest, and we have decades of experience in challenging unlawful arrests. Let us help you now.

With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.

1. Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of Nevada, 542 U.S. 177 (2004). href=”#ref1″>↩

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Wallin & Klarich was established in 1981. Over the past 32 years, our law firm has helped tens of thousands of families in their time of legal need. Regardless of whether our clients faced criminal or DUI charges, the loss of their driving privilege, or wanted to clean up their criminal record, we have been there to help them.