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Do you have to provide ID when asked by police?

On Behalf of | Jun 22, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

No one wants to be pulled over by police. That’s especially true if you’ve had a drink or two, have some drugs in your car that you don’t have a prescription for or are pretty sure they want to ask you what you know about some criminal activity you may or may not have been involved in. It can be hard to think clearly in a moment like that, but you may remember something about having the right to remain silent. That right, however, isn’t absolute.

You do have the right not to submit to an interrogation without having legal representation. However, you are required to provide law enforcement with accurate identification when it’s requested. If you’re driving, that means your driver’s license. Passengers can also be required to provide ID.

A Supreme Court ruling about passenger requirements

In 2023, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously in a case involving the right of police to require identification, including name and birth date, from a passenger during a traffic stop. Specifically, the justices determined that a police officer who has “reasonable suspicion” that someone committed a criminal offense could require them to produce ID even if they aren’t driving the vehicle. As long as the traffic stop is legal, according to the court, they aren’t violating a person’s Fourth Amendment right to protection from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The ID needs to be accurate

It should be noted that it’s important to not just to provide ID when asked but to give your correct identity to officers. Under New Mexico law, “concealing one’s true name or identity, or disguising oneself with intent to obstruct the due execution of the law…” is a petty misdemeanor.

While this may not sound like a very harsh punishment, the larger problem is that refusing to provide ID is going to start off your encounter with police on the wrong foot. Things can quickly head downhill from there. It’s going to make them suspicious. They could believe you’re trying to hinder an investigation or keep them from finding out what you or someone else has done.

After providing ID, if you choose to invoke your right to remain silent until you have legal representation, you need to let officers know that’s what you’re doing. That means clearly but respectfully asserting that right. If you’re arrested and charged with an offense, seeking legal guidance can help you protect your rights.