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Do you have to provide identification as a passenger in a car?

On Behalf of | Jul 22, 2020 | Immigration And Naturalization

Most immigrants in the United States are in a somewhat precarious position. It only takes one mistake to potentially end their eligibility for permanent resident status, to impact their visa or to initiate deportation proceedings. The courts have the ability to interpret any criminal charges broadly to determine if it should impact someone’s immigration status in the future.

Avoiding any kind of criminal issue as an immigrant is usually the best option. Learning the law and carefully complying with it is important for immigrants who wish to stay in the United States or naturalize to become a citizen. Still, people can find themselves in situations where they have to deal with police officers through no fault of their own.

One of those situations could involve riding as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle. Especially if the driver winds up arrested for some reason, you probably don’t want any information on your record about your presence in the vehicle if you can avoid it. If officers stop a vehicle that you are in and request your identification, do you have to provide it if you aren’t driving?

When must you have identification?

As a general rule, the two times that you must have state-issued identification are when you drive a vehicle or fly on an airplane. If you refuse to provide identification in those scenarios, you could face consequences for doing so.

You don’t necessarily have to have state identification cards on your person when you leave your house and ride in someone else’s vehicle. You could simply inform the officers that you don’t have ID available because you knew you wouldn’t be driving.

Can officers compel you to identify yourself?

There are certain situations where officers might abuse their authority by conducting a traffic stop and then pushing boundaries in order to find grounds to make an arrest or issue a citation. Running a brief check on every occupant in a vehicle is an example of an officer possibly overstepping their bounds and violating the rights of the people in the vehicle.

Unless the officer witnesses something during the traffic stop that gave them probable cause to believe you could be involved in crime somehow, they typically can’t compel you to identify yourself. Knowing this can help you better assert yourself if law enforcement officers try to pressure you into doing something you worry could have negative consequences for you later.