Ask a Cop: Passenger's ID?

Have a question for the Fredericksburg Police Department? Send it to dan.telvock@patch.com with the subect "Ask a Cop"

Question: A couple of weeks ago, I was stopped by an officer for having a stoplight out.  The officer asked for my license (understandable as I was the driver) and then asked for my wife’s ID. I am wondering why he would ask to see a passenger’s ID and if she was legally required to present it to him.

Answer: The Courts have held that an officer may ask a passenger for identification during a traffic stop, but whether the passenger is obligated to identify him or herself depends upon the reason for the stop. If the only reason for the stop is a traffic infraction committed by the driver, the officer may ask a passenger for identification, but the passenger is not obligated to provide it. If however, the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe the occupants of a vehicle may be involved in illegal activity, then both the drivers and the passenger(s) are the subject of the investigative detention.  For example, if the vehicle was stopped because it matches the description of a vehicle fleeing the scene of a crime, the officer may ask questions to determine whether or not criminal activity is afoot; including ascertaining the identity of the vehicle occupants. Officers routinely ask people for identification during encounters that go beyond casual contact.  They frequently find wanted people or the information may become key to an investigation at a later date.  It doesn’t necessarily mean the officer suspects the person of wrongdoing, but it’s not unusual for a case to be solved because an officer made note of encountering a particular person at a particular place and time.

Raconteur July 31, 2012 at 11:41 AM
Actually the passenger does not need to provide an ID. They may need to identify themselves, by verbally giving their name and address, if the officer has reasonable articulable suspicion of crime or there is a local ordinance that requires you to.
Ty Johnson July 31, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Although I’m not saying that either answer provided above are incorrect, they are useless without statute citation(s) that support the answer(s). To me, this information is unreliable and pure conjecture without the supporting citation(s). Since the article is “Ask a Cop,” it would be useful to have the “Cop’s” name associated with the answer(s).
Natatia Bledsoe July 31, 2012 at 05:48 PM
From Capt. Jim Kuebler: Use the following link as a scholarly summary of the court rulings addressing the question of identifying passengers:  http://www.patc.com/enewsletter/legal-answers/2-apr08.shtml   Arizona vs. Johnson is the pertinent Supreme Court ruling addressing the investigative detention of vehicles http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/08pdf/07-1122.pdf
Raconteur July 31, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Ty, if there is no law stating that you are required to provide an ID, then you do not need to. Providing a drivers license is only required if you are driving. BTW the legal advice you get on internet forums, is worth what you paid for it.
Cynthia Rogers July 31, 2012 at 07:09 PM
First of all I beleive they are calling this ask a cop. Now if you really want a trustworthy answer; you need to ask an attorney or a judge. Cops sometimes bend the laws to suit them, their friends and family. If I, on the other hand, was a passenger of someone vehicle and a officer ask me for ID. I would not see any problem with that, because I have not done anything wrong or illegal. So, what's the issue here?
KMG365 July 31, 2012 at 10:29 PM
"Cops sometimes bend the rules...," you said. So I appreciate the question...and the answers.
1Ronald August 01, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Readers will find interesting Desiree Stennett's July 25th article in the Orlando Sentinel, "When Cops demand to see your ID, here's what you do." Just google Desiree Stennett + When Cops Demand.
Unknown Sender August 01, 2012 at 11:24 PM
I suppose this could be debated til the cows come home. Doesnt matter in Va if there is a law governing this or not. All that is needed is those famous two little words that are used so often it makes real laws not needed. They are "probable cause". Everyone who is breathing and in the public or not (driving or at home watching tv) is subject to these two words. Which allows ANY officer of the law such a wide position, they can make up any reason during a traffic stop to do just about anything to you. Including demanding your ID. Sorry folks, thats the prevailing law in this and any other law under the Va code. And it is used. more than any other law on the books!
Ty Johnson August 07, 2012 at 10:44 AM
RACONTEUR - The response to the inquiry stated "The courts have held . . ." therefore, there is legal precedence. So a citation of the rulings from the court or courts is definately in order. I concur that this advice is worth what I pay for it, but on the other hand, the integrity of the journalist and the paper/internet news medium demands that she or he provide factual data to their consumers. Otherwise, why even have the data here? It is worthless and an abuse of ink and paper or electronics in cyberspace if this is mere twaddle.
Ty Johnson August 07, 2012 at 10:46 AM
Assuming Capt. Jim Kuebler is a police officer, with which PD is he employed? The AZ v. Johnson ruling is very helpful (THANKS)! This is to what I've been referring when it comes to citing your references for providing such information. However, it doesn't seem THE PATCH has caught on. The latest version of "ASK A COP" still doesn't provide legal citation.
Ty Johnson August 07, 2012 at 11:03 AM
PC has to be proven, and there have been numerous court cases on what is and is not PC. So I'm not so confident that PC is such a wide net as you are trying to lead us to believe. A LEO puts himself or herself in a precarious position if they claim PC without a grounded reason. When you factor in immediate access to video/audio recording equipment, the LEO could even find civil liabilities levied against them (regardless of whether or not an infraction of law was discovered).
Ty Johnson August 07, 2012 at 11:31 AM
That is why I asked for legal citation on the answer. We seem to agree! Now, taking your view of ". . . I've done nothing wrong or illegal. So, what's the issue here?" I'd like to read your thoughts on the Stop and Frisk issue ongoing in NYC. Would you be amenable to a LEO stopping you (while you're in a car or on the street) and frisking you whenever she or he feels like it? If you've done nothing wrong, is there a problem with allowing the search? Think about it like this; If the LEO feels that your NRA shirt/cap makes you a threat to use a firearm, wouldn't she or he have a reason to ask you to get out of the vehicle, or to approach you on the street and "Stop and Frisk" you? If you've done nothing wrong, would you have an issue with such a tack? The courts have already held that for Officer safety, a LEO can do a pat-down on someone they are questioning/detaining (note I did not use the word "ARREST"). So what is all the brouhaha with Stop and Frisk?
Jason Atkinson August 07, 2012 at 04:20 PM
I think asking for identification is a far less significant invasion on a person than is "stop and frisk". Some people seem to think that the government is constantly trying to take away our liberties in every situation (and yes, some do seem like they are). Do you complain when the teller asks for your ID with your credit card? Because from my understanding, this is a direct violation of their agreement with the card companies and your cardholder agreement, so they are actually prohibited from doing so (when the card is properly presented and duly signed). Sometimes these things are just a good way of catching wrongdoers who have previously avoided being caught...which I would think is to everyone's benefit, except said wrongdoer of course.


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