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Officers Can Request Identification from Everyone in Vehicle During a Traffic Stop

I am sometimes asked to agree that passengers do not have to show identification.  In Georgia and most other states, that is not a correct statement of the law.  So, I end up disagreeing with the proposition.

Short Summary for People Who Do Not Understand Nuances.  There is no constitutional bar which prevents an officer from asking a passenger in an automobile for identification. Multiple courts, including the US Supreme Court and the Georgia Supreme Court have ruled that attempting to identify the occupants of an automobile is within an officer's prerogatives in order to assure the officer's safety. A passenger is not required to give identification in response to that request.  However, refusal to provide identification may allow the officer to expand the stop in order to determine whether that passenger or passengers poses a danger to their safety during the traffic stop.

I can understand why people may feel that way about it.  It seems like a passenger is not related to the purpose of the traffic stop, so they should not be drug into an interaction between the driver and the officer.  That is based on a very limited view of the traffic stop.

The mission of a traffic stop is to address the violation and to attend to related safety concerns during the stop.  When the traffic stop occurs, it is often a single officer and two or more persons alone on the side of the road.  To protect his or her safety, the officer can make certain ordinary inquiries related to the stop.  Those can certainly include an inspection of the driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance and a computerized records check of that information.  The requirement to produce identification and a computerized records check of that information is not considered a search or seizure under the Fourth Amendment. 

There are a number of things that can be done by the officer to allow safe completion of the traffic stop so long as they do not unduly divert from the mission of the stop.  This can include requesting and obtaining of identification of anyone in the vehicle.  The theory is that if someone in the vehicle has outstanding warrants, that can be a safety concern for the officer.  The Georgia Supreme Court has held that officers may request and obtain identification from passengers as a part of a traffic stop.  State v. Allen, 298 Ga. 1 (2015). 

Likewise, officers are permitted to inquire about the presence of weapons in the car in order to assist in protecting officer safety. 

As part of a traffic stop, an officer may require a driver, already lawfully stopped, to exit the vehicle. Pennsylvania v. Mimms, 434 US 106 (1977).  Passengers may also be required to exit the vehicle.  Maryland v. Wilson, 519 US 408 (1997). 

These things may be done as a matter of routine and do not require any articulation of subjective fear by the officer.  They must be done in a reasonable amount of time.  The officer cannot stretch this process out to expand the duration of the traffic stop to allow some other investigation to proceed.  The duration of the traffic stop must be reasonable based on the reason for the stop unless probable cause develops to expand the investigation.   

In addition, OCGA §  40-5-29 requires a licensee to display his or license on demand of a law enforcement officer.  This certainly requires a driver to produce the license.

Sean A. Black

Sean A. Black is a 1992 graduate of the Emory University School of Law. He has been in private practice in Toccoa, Georgia since June 1, 1992.


Mel Range

Posted Jul 24, 2021 at 17:14:54

Your thought seems logical but based solely on the case you provided as background, your logic in regards to cops being able to ask passengers to identify or provide identification is flawed. In State v Allen (2015), the driver and passenger had already vacated the truck before the cop attempted to stop them. At this point they both were considered pedestrians. The cop had reasonable suspicion in regards to Couch, however, he had no reasonable suspicion to suspect Allen of any criminal activity being afoot and without reasonable suspicion, although the cop could ask for identification, Allen was under no obligation to respond, this making the cop’s detainment of Allen to be unlawful. Thus making the search, although they obtained consent from Allen beforehand, the lower court sided with Allen on her suppression motion that made the fruits of the search inadmissible. Bottom line, without reasonable suspicion or probable cause a cop can ask a pedestrian to identify but he’s under no obligation to do so until reasonable or probable cause has been established.


Posted Jul 26, 2021 at 05:27:21

Cunningham’s Law says that the best way to get the right answer on the internet is to post a wrong answer. In this case, my answer is not wrong but may be incomplete. No, I did not address the situation where a passenger ceases to be a passenger and becomes a pedestrian.

As well, the officer can always ask.


Paul Hinton

Posted Aug 02, 2021 at 16:11:22

I think this is wrong….a person who is simply in the car during a trafic stop is no way involved in a simple traffic offence…..this is simply a way for police to delve into a person’s life……and continue their repution of hi-way piraite..


Mel Range

Posted Aug 11, 2021 at 04:54:11

After further review, I viewed the wrong case. And the cop was justified in conducting the dog sniff cause he hadn’t given Scott and Allen their licenses back. However, if Allen never complies with the cop’s request for identification as he was a passenger and the cop had no reason to suspect any criminal activity had already been a foot, currently a foot or about to be a foot on Allen’s part, the dog sniff would have been unreasonable as its highly likely that the cop would’ve given Scott his license back and issued the written/verbal warning. Case and point, a cop can ask a passenger for id all he wants but the onus solely lies with the passenger(s) to know that they’re under no obligation to oblige the cop’s request for identification as it’s not a lawful order unless the cop can articulate his reasonable suspicion for doing so.


I Am

Posted Aug 27, 2021 at 15:04:52

I still see people Rights Are volulated, All this is a second law to the Constitution. I’m Just Saying. SMIB



Posted Sep 02, 2021 at 19:21:10

The 4th and 5th amendments, along with a plethora of well-established case law, disagree with you. This isn’t even open to interpretation. You are flat out wrong, and I hope nobody makes the mistake of hiring you to defend them from overzealous police


Posted Sep 03, 2021 at 07:37:28

You and some others seem to read my statement that officers can request identifying information from passengers as meaning that passengers are required to provide that identification or to identify themselves. That is not what I wrote. I have prospective clients and clients who are under the impression that it is unconstitutional for the officer to even ask for a passenger’s identity. That is not the case.

There is no question that when a traffic stop occurs that the driver and any passengers are being detained. That detention is only constitutional so long as the duration is not unduly prolonged without probable cause to believe that other violations are occurring.

Within the duration of a reasonable detention, the officer can make conversation and ask questions and is permitted to ask for identification. Again, the person is not required to provide identification or identifying information. But, failure to do so may have consequences of its own. The federal and Georgia case law is pretty clear that those requests are permitted and that officers may run checks on those identities.

Every case is fact-dependent, but is is beyond dispute that in the United States of America, officers conducting a traffic stop can request identification from passengers and can order them out of the vehicle. The case law is referenced above. There is no U.S. Supreme Court or Georgia Supreme Court case saying that passengers may never be asked for identification. Forget the “plethora;” give me the one case.

The question beyond that is whether an individual should give identification. That answer is heavily fact-dependent. It is not always yes.

The question beyond that one is whether anyone being detained by the police should given any information beyond the bare minimum. The answer there is simpler, no. Anything you say beyond the bare minimum may and likely will be used against you.



Posted Sep 04, 2021 at 15:22:36

So I have a ? Can’t a officer just simply say in any case that there is a smell of marijuana in the car and that automatically gives them reason to say you could possibly be in possession there for I need you i.d. …then what if the passengers response is there are no drugs in the car your free to search the vehicle to make sure the crime your suspected of is in fact false and the passenger refuses to identify his self because he knows no law is being broken …if a person can prove that the crime they are being accused of is not true why should they have to present a i.d.


Posted Sep 07, 2021 at 05:36:18

My long time complaint about “odor of marijuana” is exactly what you describe. It is basically “magic words” which allow the officer to search the vehicle. An owner or driver can consent to the search of the car. A passenger can consent to a search of their personal effects, etc.


Tanya J

Posted Sep 14, 2021 at 16:40:51

If you’re a passenger in the motor vehicle and the driver is stopped by a law enforcement officer, you DO NOT have to identify yourself in the State of Georgia.



Posted Sep 15, 2021 at 02:35:53

Well never give consent to search your car just say no u don’t have my consent to search. . Caught on film was a cop throwing a bag of dope on the guys back seat thanks to Dash cam footage the cop was fired as all seen what kind of civil serpent yea SNAkE he was .now law suite is filed .just say no I don’t consent like I say dash cam saved the day he did not no until it was to late .live stream is best.


Posted Sep 15, 2021 at 05:27:24

That is true, and I have never said otherwise, but it may lead to additional law enforcement investigation and detention. Whether that investigative detention can be justified would be a question for a different day. What I wrote was that law enforcement can “ask” for identification. The courts have justified it under officer safety. So, failure to identify oneself may elevate those safety concerns.



Posted Oct 01, 2021 at 20:25:42

Hello Sean,

I believe the confusion some people are having is the verbiage you used in the first few paragraphs of your article. What you wrote does suggest that if a vehicle stop is made based upon a violation committed by the driver only, then passengers are required to identify to police.

You then clarified your position correctly to say that officers may ASK passengers for their ID during a traffic stop, but they are not required to identify themselves (unless, of course, there is articulable reasonable suspicion of crime on the passengers).

Bottom line, passengers do not have to provide their identification to police when the stop only involves a violation by the driver.

The officer can ASK passengers to ID, and if they do, the courts consider this a voluntary action on the part of the passenger(s).

Stuffelbeam v. Harris (2008)
U.S. v. Landeros (2019)
Corona v. City of Clovis (2020)

Finally, if an officer takes a lawful refusal of a passenger to identify and uses it as a reason to further detain and investigate that passenger, then the officer better have developed additional reasonable suspicion or probable cause of crime to do so.

Thanks Sean!


DB McCrea

Posted Oct 03, 2021 at 16:09:23

You wrote: “The Georgia Supreme Court has held that officers may request AND OBTAIN identification from passengers as a part of a traffic stop. State v. Allen, 298 Ga. 1 (2015).” Nowhere do you clarify that an otherwise innocent passenger is not required to surrender their personal information to law enforcement. This ongoing belief that the 4th Amendment is temporarily suspended inside a motor vehicle is as pervasive as it is wrongheaded. Do better, councilor.


Posted Oct 04, 2021 at 06:35:24

It is not a clarification. The premise of the article is that there is a mistaken belief that law enforcement officers are not authorized to request identification from passengers and have them exit the vehicle. That is a belief that can cause significant problems for people who believe that a constitutional violation has occurred when one of those requests is made of them. That can cause behavior which can bring unnecessary trouble to them. The brief article speaks to that question. I will clarify that my intention in summarizing Allen as stating “obtain” was to mean that they can receive such identification from those that provide it. They can likewise run a computer check of those identifications to determine if there are outstanding warrants, etc.

Nowhere did I suggest that anyone was required to provide such identification. There may indeed be situations where a person may determine that it is in their interest not to identify themselves. They should not expect that decision to be consequence-free.

While there remain some Fourth Amendment protections in the vehicle context, the state and federal courts have done a fairly good job of chipping away at them.

During any interaction with law enforcement, a person should not volunteer incriminating information and should limit the interaction as much as reasonably possible.


Matt Price

Posted Oct 17, 2021 at 01:48:17

Mr. Sean Black, I hope to be able to bounce a couple related questions off you! This happened personally, 7:30 am on a Saturday. I am a VA resident and this happened 10 miles away in TN. I was driving, got pulled over for a taillight. I had a drivers license, although not on my person. I immediately offered my full name, age, birthday, address and social. He pulled out a notepad and wrote it all down, I offered all of that to try to show that I had nothing to hide and to prove who I was in the easiest way possible for him! He comes back some time later and says the VA system is down and I need to step out of the truck…..he wanted to search! He put me in handcuffs for safety lol And sat me on the walk. He had his backup get my passenger(50+ yr old female TN resident) out of the truck to be arrested…..get this….for a warrant out of….VA…..for an unpaid ticket. I asked him how did he know about the traffic ticket warrant if the VA system was down…..which he didn’t like and I was arrested for driving without a license….. it’s over now but what should/could I have done?


Posted Oct 20, 2021 at 09:48:01

Only thing that I can point to is having your license on your person if you are driving.

Beyond that, I do not see anything additional you could have done.


Georgia Guardian

Posted Oct 24, 2021 at 20:54:19

So if you are on public property recording the police and they ask you for ID and you refuse because you have not broken the law can you be charged with loitering? Furthermore what’s the chances of having that charge dismissed at a prelim because they officer gave you no chance to explain why you are their and no chance to dispel any alarm?


Posted Oct 25, 2021 at 05:11:28

This is a completely different situation than discussed in my article.

There is a lot of good information on the Photography Is Not a Crime website as well as a number of other sources about the questions you raise. Loitering is a crime which is often unconstitutionally vague. In general, it typically involves staying in a location for no good purpose. Watching a police-citizen encounter is neither a lack of purpose or a bad purpose. Some reasonable restrictions can be imposed regarding where one is during such an event in terms of safety concerns. Every aspect of such an encounter is likely describable in terms of shades of gray with no bright line rules as to what you can and cannot do and what officers can or cannot do.

So long as you are not interfering with legal actions of law enforcement, your recording of the event should not be a crime.


Stanley Morton

Posted Oct 31, 2021 at 13:08:40

Like most of the above comments, I took your article to imply, that a passenger had to supply identification when asked during a routine traffic stop. I mean, this is (was) red state ga.
Glad others spoke up and a clarification outlined.
This has happened to me, as well as a request to search vehicle. Now that I have a better understanding of my rights, I intend to exercise them. Forthwith.


Milton Mecca

Posted Nov 06, 2021 at 02:48:10

My question is if a cop pulls you over and states the reason is for modification to your vehicle can the cop order you to assist them in inspecting your car to check for illegal modifications? For example, the cop says to open the hood so he can look under and threatens you with arrest if you don’t open the hood as well as assist with turning lights and blinkers on? Thank you.


Posted Nov 08, 2021 at 06:23:06

I have to admit that this is a question that has not been put to me previously. Certainly, in the context of commercial vehicle stops, such inspections can be done.

OCGA 40-8-7(d) provides that: " Any vehicle suspected of being operated in violation of this article may be the subject of an inspection conducted by any law enforcement officer who has reason to believe such violation is occurring, without the necessity of obtaining a warrant to permit such inspection." The article referenced is that one dealing with equipment violations.

Under subsection © of OCGA 40-8-7 it may be a misdemeanor to fail to allow an inspection.

Going further into your question, you ask whether you are required to do things to facilitate the officer’s inspection. To the extent that such actions may tend to incriminate you, you have a right under the Georgia Constitution, not the federal constitution, to refuse to perform acts that tend to incriminate you.

You should consider that an unsafe vehicle may be impounded and forbidden from operating on the public roads.



Posted Nov 13, 2021 at 05:45:21

I understand the premise and intent but I feel a lot of confusion is coming simply from the precise phrasing used in head of the post.

“I am sometimes asked to agree that passengers do not have to show identification. In Georgia and most other states, that is not a correct statement of the law. So, I end up disagreeing with the proposition.”

Maybe it’s not exactly fair to read so much into it but breaking this down into pieces
“I am sometimes asked to agree that…” – following this will be what you are sometimes asked to agree with, specifically being “passengers do not have to show identification.” (There is no mention of officers or request in this sentence).

It is followed by “In Georgia and most other states, that -” (that can reasonably be assumed to mean ’passengers do not have to show identification") “-is not a correct statement of the law.”

So coupling these two together; with the lack of any mention of officers (and by extension officer request), one could read this as “In Georgia and most other states, it is not a correct statement of the law that passengers do not have to show identification” (and my understanding of law does not give enough to say that the opposite must be true; however, a less informed but reasonable person might take it that way).

I understand your post is meant to be taken in totality, but I even with that in mind this still feels a bit poorly worded due to the content it has and is missing (since you’ve repeatedly clarified that this is not your position/claim, and that you’re specifically aiming for clarification regarding the constitutional legality of an officer simply requesting it in the first place; since the other take away (in addition to the point you’re trying to make) is that passengers legally do not have to show identification (the officer may ask for it – but the passenger is not required by law to provide it).

I could be completely incorrect all this and if so I do apologize and would appreciate any clarification or if you disagree with it.


Posted Nov 17, 2021 at 05:37:38

I stand by my wording, but I do not object to the critique. Once again, law enforcement officers are allowed to ask a passenger for identification. The passenger can either provide it or not. Not providing it is likely to lead to negative attention from the officer. The passenger has to judge whether that negative attention is better or worse than providing identification.

After the fact, a defense lawyer can assess whether or not the officer has impinged on constitutional protections. That is a complicated question of law and fact and does not lend itself to easy answers.



Posted Dec 14, 2021 at 06:02:24

I have a friend for whom this is an important issue:

They have a partner who is undocumented and afraid to ride as a passenger for fear of being asked for ID and deported.

It sounds like treatment of the passenger is subjective based on the particulars of the stop and the officer has broad powers to be hard or easy on a passenger depending on their predispositions…

So if a passenger doesn’t have ID on them, such as my friends partner, the officer could escalate however they deem fit, I presume? It sounds like perhaps their fears are justified.


Posted Dec 14, 2021 at 06:08:46

Unless your friend’s partner can guarantee themselves of not having any contact with law enforcement at all, this is a situation can arise on foot, in a car, at home, at work, at a store.

In each of these situations, the person can respond that they do not have identification with them. If pushed for identifying information, they should say that they prefer not to give their information and ask if they are being detained, and if not, request to leave the situation. Under no circumstances should they lie to or give false information to an officer.

If the officer has a reason to detain or arrest, then one could expect some effort to identify who the person is.



Posted Jan 07, 2022 at 03:59:25

Sean A Black is wrong in stateing he didn’t say passengers are required to produce ID. In his statement above, he said, and I quote " There are a number of things that can be required to allow safe completion of the traffic stop so long as they do not unduly divert from the mission of the stop. This can include obtaining of identification of anyone in the vehicle. "
The officer need reasonable articulable suspicion that a crime has been committed before stopping a vehicle and requesting ID, especially from the passengers.



Posted Jan 07, 2022 at 05:36:49

I have tweaked that paragraph summarizing the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision in Allen.

This article did not address the issues involved in the initial stop of the vehicle. It dealt with a narrow issue of officers requesting identification of passengers in a stopped vehicle. You are right that if the initial stop was not supported by articulable suspicion then everything that occurs thereafter may be out of evidence.

After a valid stop, the officer does not have to have articulable suspicion to request identification from passengers in the vehicle.


R Lee

Posted Jan 25, 2022 at 19:02:05

It’s all BS in my opinion. Tonight my wife and I were stopped.


Bernardo P

Posted Jan 27, 2022 at 08:00:53

Unreal. This is why people really need to learn to read and understand what is being said and written.

An officer is well within his rights as an officer to ASK for ID and you have the right to REFUSE that request unless you are suspected of having committed a crime. I am not an attorney so I won’t go into the other details Mr. Black refers to that would allow officers to extend their investigation but if you haven’t done anything wrong you don’t have to comply with the request for ID.


Nathaniel Anderson

Posted Feb 23, 2022 at 05:36:30

considering we’re talking about a misdemeanor moving violation stop… It seems completely unreasonable to me for any officer to presume that their safety may be Endangered by any passenger of the vehicle if they do not identify who they are because It is unreasonable to assume the passenger in such a case would elevate a situation that is nothing to do with them to one that would require immense police response by endangering the safety of an officer. It is only reasonable to presume that an officers safety may be in danger if an officer were to make a passenger feel that there freedom and rights may be in danger a violation by the officer. So if you don’t want to endanger yourself don’t go sticking your nose in other peoples business. Calling something safety when it’s clearly not that at all is A complete misrepresentation.


Posted Feb 23, 2022 at 06:05:33

I understand your feeling. The argument on the other side is that they know that they are pulling someone over for a traffic violation, but they do not necessarily know what else that person is involved in or may be engaged in or fleeing from. Whether the concern for safety is legitimate or not, most courts have found that there are some things the officers can do to assure safety.


Monica Johnson

Posted Mar 02, 2022 at 18:43:28

I live in GA and have to go to court for a traffic infraction and will represent myself because I can not afford. an attorney. I’m hoping you could give me some information on how to write up a motion to have police dashcam introduced into evidence because I believe that alone will prove my innocence.


Russell Thomason

Posted Mar 02, 2022 at 20:52:32

You are correct Mr Anderson if officer approaches a vehicle on a normal traffic stop and is asking for ID from passengers because he wants to ensure that his safety during the stop he’s profiling individuals in the car with presumptive assumption at which case it is illegal period. All too many times this technique of obtaining identification from all parties is used by less than credible individuals as law enforcement officers they’ll do whatever they can to get whatever they want as long as you don’t know your rights. Read them learn them live them stay free my friends


Posted Mar 07, 2022 at 06:37:33

In the situation you describe, your first request should be a court appointed attorney from the court. Failing that, speak to the prosecutor and explain that you would like to review any videos of the encounter.


Doug stanfield

Posted Mar 13, 2022 at 10:22:39

Stufflebean v Harris
Passenger does not need to ID If the officer has no RAS to deal directly with the passenger


Posted Mar 14, 2022 at 07:03:05

Arkansas federal case out of the 8th Circuit. It holds, as I said, that the Fourth Amendment is not implicated by a request for identification.

The case involves a passenger who refused to provide identification, his right as I have said, and was arrested by the officer for obstruction of the officer’s investigation. The officer was not able to point to any other evidence of suspected criminal behavior and apparently did not articulate any officer safety concerns regarding the passenger. Criminal case was dismissed. Passenger sued officer under the federal civil rights law, 42 USC 1981 et seq. Footnote 3 bears some attention as well: “In a case decided after the arrest in this case, the Supreme Court held that a state law “requiring a suspect to disclose his name in the course of a valid Terry stop,” and authorizing his arrest for refusal to comply, “did not contravene the guarantees of the Fourth Amendment.”  Hiibel v. Sixth Jud. Dist. Ct., 542 U.S. 177, 188-89, 124 S.Ct. 2451, 159 L.Ed.2d 292 (2004).”



Posted Mar 15, 2022 at 15:57:19

If you are pull over for a traffics infraction, the officer ask if there are any weapon in the vehicle. You provide him with ccp. He ask you to step out of the vehicle when you step out and turn and lock your vehicle. Can they make you open the vehicle.


Posted Mar 16, 2022 at 05:47:26

That is an interesting question that cannot be answered with the facts you give.

So, the reason for the officer asking the question is officer safety. Being out of the locked vehicle, presumably with the firearm inside the vehicle, it seems like that officer safety concern goes away. Officer safety would not, in my opinion, justify going into the vehicle to recover a firearm, and possibly finding other things along the way.

But, if the officer has other information or evidence which provides him or her with probable cause to believe that there is evidence of a crime in the vehicle, then that could justify entry into the vehicle and search. Again, facts that I do not have from your example.

That said, most officers are not going to be happy or satisfied with the locked car. However, if they force the issue and go into the vehicle without your consent or probable cause, then there is a good Fourth Amendment challenge to that search.

I am not aware of any Georgia case law with that fact pattern.


Art Morris

Posted Mar 18, 2022 at 14:53:00

If a cop gets pissed because you refuse to identify,he or she could arrest you. You may get charges dropped, but what about the inconvenience of being arrested? Sitting in a holding cell,wait for someone to come and bail you out,the cost of bail and the foot dragging by vindictive police making you sit extra time..If charges are dropped,the arresting officer should have to cover that cost to the innocent victim.


Ben Frank

Posted May 16, 2022 at 17:40:55

So unless a cop has probable cause a passenger of a vehicle does not have to comply when asked for identification?


Posted May 17, 2022 at 06:29:06

That is correct.

That said, lack of compliance may not be consequence free. There are a lot of factors that might go into that decision for a passenger, a weighing of potential upsides and downsides.


Phil ardrey

Posted May 25, 2022 at 05:23:50

I agree 100% Oklahoma is not a stop and identify state and I’ve been a passenger in a recent traffic stop for a cracked tail lens the driver didn’t get ticket nor warning just the reason for the stop that lasted 3.5 hrs bc another passenger refused to give is name was arrested I was threaten to be arrested if I didn’t bc the police said they were doing an investigation at first when asking for names, an hr and a half later I got the same cop on video changing his story when I asked what the investigation was he said there wasn’t one it was just a traffic stop this was right b4 they arrested my friend bc they couldn’t find him in the system after revealing his name they still arrested him. I’ve also was arrested after getting my door kicked in without a warrant my home searched I was tased while my hands were in the air. I was arrested after 3 days in jail I went to court to be tolls my charge was dus misdemeanor offence my bond was dropped 98,000 from 100,000 to 2,000 when I wasn’t stopped nor attempted to be stopped, I was home, the judge said an officer had reported seeing me drive days earlier. I’m still fighting in court!


Ralph Bonawitz

Posted Jun 24, 2022 at 08:29:02

I would like to No in Georgia do they have the right to search your car or truck if they pull you over saying your spending and there is nothing in plan sight or smell of anything Do they have the right search


Posted Jun 28, 2022 at 06:27:06

In order to search a vehicle following a traffic stop, the officer must have probable cause to believe that the officer will find evidence of criminal wrongdoing as part of the search. In most other circumstances, the officer would be required to obtain a search warrant from a judge by providing his evidence supporting probable cause. Long ago, the US Supreme Court crafted the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment which essentially allows the officer to act as his own judge and can decide that he or she has probable cause to search. A court can later evaluate that decision and exclude any evidence found from evidence if the evidence did not rise to the level of probable cause at the time of the search. Hunches are not enough, so the officer has to point to things that indicate criminal activity. Things they see, smell, hear and observe.


Posted Jun 28, 2022 at 06:28:02

If there is no good reason for the search that the officer can explain to a judge then any evidence found can be excluded from evidence.


Juris Doctorate

Posted Jul 11, 2022 at 20:41:03

Sean A. Black, you make an impressive legal argument on the Georgia state laws regarding the legal implications of a traffic stop, including the rights and legal obligations of the passengers involved in the stop. In Kentucky, and like yourself, I am often asked by clients and potential clients whether it is unlawful for police to request identification from the passenger of a traffic stop. As you have so eloquently discussed, it is certainly not unlawful for police to request ID from a passenger. While police are well within their legal bounds to ask — just as in Georgia — passengers of a traffic stop in Kentucky may legally refuse. In the absence of the officer’s reasonable suspicion for making the ID request, the passenger’s refusal is likewise legal. And this is the point in such a scenario where many laymen and litigants alike prefer to draw the line in terms of the legal implications of said refusal. While a passenger of a traffic stop — in the absence of the officer’s reasonable suspicion — cannot be arrested for merely refusing to identify themselves to the officer, said refusal can certainly be a factor for creating reasonable suspicion when weighed by the officer in a cumulative light, i.e., in conjunction with other factors. When such a cumulative basis exists to form reasonable suspicion in the mind of the officer, thus acting as the catalyst for potential searches and seizures by the officer,
the legal analysis becomes complex, multi-faceted, and chocked full of both binding and persuasive authorities — suppression hearings grow longer, memoranda of law become thicker, and grueling caselaw research becomes defense counsel’s breakfast, lunch & dinner. In short, and as the commentary to this piece clearly indicates, the legal context becomes substantially.complex and broad in scope. While the 4th, 5th & 14th.Amendments are the cornerstones of the legal brief in this particular context, multiple legal aspects are invoked, overlap, and create a multi-tiered standard of review — both on motion practice in the trial court and fleshing out the briefs in the appellate arena.
I truly appreciate Attorney Sean A. Black’s emphasis on the legal semantics involved in this discussion, as well as his demonstrative ability in shedding light on the myriad legal aspects at play. The commentary has given way for an intricate legal discussion. Thanks to Attorney Sean A. Black and all who took part in the commentary. There are brilliant legal minds in the mix.


Sebastian Wolf

Posted Jul 20, 2022 at 07:26:11

I have to say just how telling “discussions” like this are. You have a gaggle of YouTube lawyers trying to tell you the law, and flat out saying you’re lying. The main issue I have with this is that these YouTube lawyers tell others what they learned in YouTube Law school, and misinformation is spread like a wild fire. People listen and if they have an encounter with a Leo, they are going to do exactly what their YouTube lawyer told them to. People get killed this way. On both sides of the misinformation. You hear tyrant this and tyrant that daily, only to see that the Leo followed the law perfectly. They argue with you, they become violent to them. It truly is sad.



Posted Jul 28, 2022 at 05:46:47

Same in Missouri but I heard if the cop ask you for your name, you have to tell them. Is this true can you just give your first name only or can you simply remain silent??? Does anyone know, do you Sean Black



Posted Jul 31, 2022 at 04:44:31

Interesting thread. My question is in GA can a law enforcement officer pull a vehicle over masked as a safety stop & then proceed to ask for identification & cement a legal stop? During the initial safety stop, can the driver refuse to present identification/documentation ?


Posted Aug 02, 2022 at 06:44:34

I cannot tell you what Missouri law is. But, if you are required to provide your name, then a first name would not be sufficient.


Posted Aug 02, 2022 at 06:57:20

An officer cannot make a traffic stop to determine if the vehicle has defective equipment or registration or insurance issues. If the officer observes a cracked windshield, slick tires (say at a traffic light, etc.) or other problems with the vehicle, registration, or insurance, that would justify a stop for that limited purpose. From there, it is a matter of what facts present during the stop. The driver would be required to provide identification.


Mark West

Posted Aug 09, 2022 at 13:23:41

Thank you


Matt W

Posted Sep 06, 2022 at 17:55:03

Perhaps I’ve misinterpreted it, but in reading US v. Landeros, it appeared to me that in cases with no exigent circumstances, officers cannot prolong a lawfully initiated vehicle stop if any passenger(s) refuses to identify (absent RS the individual committed a crime). The ruling seemed to offer legal precedent preventing officers from requiring a passenger in an automobile to comply when asking for identification, as well as discourage retaliation if none were given.

Is this a faulty interpretation of US v. Landeros on my part? or do other cases negate what appears to be federal protection of passengers’ privacy?


Posted Sep 20, 2022 at 06:58:49

You are correct that under current precedent that, at least metaphorically, a stopwatch is started at the beginning of a traffic stop and failure to complete the objective of the traffic stop within an appropriate time given that objective can have consequences for the stop. The only way that stopwatch stops is if the officer develops some evidence of criminal conduct.

That said, that rule does not prevent the officer from asking other questions and conversing as he or she goes about the allowed actions related to the stop sign.

When combined with the fact that the time element is not a bright line rule as to how much time can be spent on a traffic stop, there is considerable opportunity for the State to fudge that line.



Posted Sep 24, 2022 at 16:31:28

Traffic stop headlight out taillights turned off.
Officer asks about seatbelts passenger declines to answer, officer asks passenger name they decided to give it officer says “they have safety concerns in regards to the driver not the passenger”. (Red glossy eyes not shown on dash cam confusion sweating) Driver being told to sit on the cop car search for weapons including his wallet.officer waits for k9 keeps passenger in the car k9 officer hits the leash on the car with the baby k9 who hits positive on the driver side. Passenger removed and officer demanded name from passengers still declines officer searches car finds no drugs fines passengers name calls dispatch runs passengers name under suspect DUI / drug same officer detained passenger calling her a fat ass to other officer and she heard it also on cam the other officer calling her a dumb b**** before she left the scene they even checked her eyes and cleared her of not being on anything and they said we are just tweakers driver was arrested after failing to do a walk-in-turn test on an incline he tried explaining to the officer he was disabled and had no toes to begin with, he told the officer her couldn’t do it took his shoes off to show him it was impossible he ended up getting hurt trying to do this test. he did the NSG test it appeared that he was doing his own test of figure eights at a rapid speed also he included the LOC test where he put the stimulus in the eye and then failed him on the test his original suspicion was that my cancer surviving husband had sunken in cheeks and poor memory so he must be a tweaker and I must be a dumb b**** because I said I had disabilities just before being called a dumb b**** excuse the language please This is all on camera. He said that there was three reasons why my husband was acting the way he was being drunk on drugs or medical issue and a matter of fact my husband was complaining of a medical issue that I brought attention to with the officer and asked him to check on him medically because I was trying to talk him into going to the hospital before we got pulled over laundry list of side effects including Strokes from the chemo radiation my point is the officer never bother to check on him he only wanted to prosecute him for drinking and being on drugs when he was not. My husband offer to take a breath test at the beginning but the officer said he didnt think he was drunk then he did after no drugs found.
What if anything did the officer do wrong from what you can tell from what I have stated above in a legal sense to be held liable for his actions


Posted Oct 03, 2022 at 07:03:30

I do not handle police misconduct lawsuits. You would need to consult with a civil lawyer who handles those types of cases. While a mistake in assessing whether someone is impaired or manifesting medical distress is not ordinarily actionable, I am very concerned about the reported abusive language and insistence on performing tests that the person was demonstrably disabled as to the performance.


Eric Lancaster

Posted Nov 09, 2022 at 10:55:31

I was the passenger of a vehicle when we were pulled over for a tag violation, I had a misdemeanor fta warrant for arrest but the police wouldn’t have known if he wouldn’t have asked the driver my name without ever asking me for my name. My question is is the police able to get the passengers name without asking the passenger?


Posted Nov 09, 2022 at 11:22:04

Generally, yes, but it would come down to how much time was spent on that diversion and whether there were factors present which indicated a safety concern relative to your presence in the vehicle. So, as many of these questions end up, the answer is it depends.



Posted Nov 11, 2022 at 06:12:08

Scotus is already ruled on the fact that passengers do not have to show ID, unless in high-speed chase stuff like that, I get it, but in a regular traffic, stop, passengers, do not have to show ID, officers may request it passengers do not have to show it.

Supreme Court of Georgia

The state versus Alan ET AL
NO.S 14G1765.
Decide on November 2, 2015.


Posted Nov 11, 2022 at 06:43:11

Exactly what I have said over and over again. Officer can request it. Passengers do not have to show it. Then, things go from there. If the officer thinks he has good cause for safety concern or criminal activity, failure to show identification may become a part of that or lead to detention or other investigative activity. Ultimately, if a charge or charges are made, a court will have to untangle whether the officer crossed a line or not, but the officer can always ask for the indentification. There is nothing which prohibits them from asking, but if there is not a good reason for asking, that delay may also be evaluated when a court considers whether the length of the detention was unconstitutional.


James Private

Posted Nov 28, 2022 at 11:45:50

What evidence do you rely on to support your opinion that just because I’m physically located in a certain geographic area, that the constitution and laws of that geographic area actually apply to me? Evidence only, please… keep your opinions to yourself. Thanks.


Posted Nov 28, 2022 at 12:00:14

Good luck with your opinion, if that is your opinion, that the constitution and laws of the place where you are do not apply to you.



Posted Dec 05, 2022 at 06:50:39

My understanding is as follows:
-Law enforcement may ask for the identification of every passenger in the car.
-Passengers may lawfully refuse to provide ID.
-Failure of passengers to provide ID may lead to consequences, especially if the officer is able to articulate reasons why passengers not providing their ID places the officer in danger.

Bottom line, probably not worth refusing to show ID if you are a pax and you don’t have any warrants or other practical reasons to refuse to show it. But if you have a warrant, definitely refuse to show ID.


Shivadasa, Esq.


DB McCrea

Posted Dec 18, 2022 at 06:45:55

Rather than posting an ad hominem attack, the question remains whether a passenger in a motor vehicle is legally required to ID if asked by an officer, not so much whether the officer has the authority ask. No, they do not have to ID, unless suspected of a crime. For the attorneys to take it one step further and outright say that such refusal may be used to launch an independent investigation serves no purpose other than to muddy the legal waters. The last thing we need is to hand officers an even greater degree of subjectivity.

Moreover, excercising a right, by itself, CANNOT be used as reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, thereby justifying a detention. Nor is the 4th Amendment “suspended” temporarily by virtue of sitting inside a car (Carroll Search does NOT apply without probable cause), only to be resurrected once the passenger steps back out.

Police can no more demand ID from an innocent passenger than then they can an innocent pedestrian. The highly-vaunted lawyers have to stop suggesting the alternative.



Posted Dec 20, 2022 at 18:16:11

(Sean, this is a repeat submission from a few months ago. Any reason my comment was never uploaded after submission the first time?)

I had no intention of replying when I started reading this thread; but I have to point out that this from Juris Doctorate is absolutely incorrect:

“While a passenger of a traffic stop — in the absence of the officer’s reasonable suspicion — cannot be arrested for merely refusing to identify themselves to the officer, said refusal can certainly be a factor for creating reasonable suspicion when weighed by the officer in a cumulative light, i.e., in conjunction with other factors.”

Negative. No way. Never. Period. Exercising any valid right — whether to refuse to consent to a search, or, in states without a stop-and-identify statute, refusal of a passenger to provide ID in an ordinary traffic stop of the vehicle — can never support EITHER probable cause OR reasonable suspicion about anything, even as one element of a broader “cumulative light.” In non-stop-and-identify states, passengers may freely refuse to provide ID absent reasonable suspicion specific to the passenger based on factors OTHER than his exercise of his right not to ID himself. His lawful refusal, by definition, cannot ever be even an element of a cumulative analysis by the officer. No exceptions to this basic proposition that merely exercising rights cannot support RS or PC. Never. Never. Never. Never.

Of course, if the traffic stop was, itself, valid AND the officer has RAS or PC specific to the passenger for any crime (including seat belt infractions in many states), the passenger can be required to ID himself; but that is never the case in an ordinary traffic stop absent RAS specific to the passenger for something other than his mere refusal to ID himself. “Officer safety” allows for Terry pat downs of all occupants and provides authority for removing everybody from the vehicle and for a reasonably brief detention, including in cuffs, depending on the situation; but “officer safety” alone never establishes a requirement to provide ID unless there’s a stop-and-identify statute, in which case, “officer safety” may very well be part of the rationale behind promulgation of those statutes.

However, the right to refuse to provide ID never includes the right to provide false ID; so if the passenger provides a fake name that isn’t in the system, that creates RAS of a specific crime, which then establishes a requirement to provide ID.

None of that means that: (1) police won’t try to bluff their way into a search or into obtaining ID, by telling you that your refusal is “suspicious” to them or even that it creates PC to search without consent; or (2) that exercising your rights to their fullest is always the smartest thing to do when dealing with police if you really have nothing to hide. As someone else pointed out, you have to weigh the immediate real-life consequences of being arrested, even improperly. You also have to keep in mind that unless there’s video streaming in real time, it’s always your word against theirs as to what was said or what was observed; and courts usually take the word of multiple cops over defendants. Hypothetical discussions about law don’t take into account the good faith exercise of police power and the consequences of “testilying” as some police refer to it, themselves.

Finally, Sean A. Black is being misunderstood simply because he was trying to be precise with his wording: Police can ASK for anything, whether or not they have a right to require compliance. That’s why it’s always smart to ask whether or not you may legally refuse their requests before automatically complying, as well as whether or not you are being detained or are free to leave the scene.


Howard Berkowitz

Posted Dec 21, 2022 at 07:17:59

I got pulled over for
not having my seatbelt on, the cop asked to search my car, I said no lol,,,he called back up they were talking and talking when I waved at the cop to come back. I said hey you wanna search my car, he said yes. I said you can search my car if you agree not to give me a seatbelt ticket, he agreed lol. Of course he found nothing lol


Posted Dec 21, 2022 at 08:28:54

I agree with most everything you state.

But when it comes to officers considering protected behavior or decisions, i.e. exercising a right to remain silent, we all know they do it, it’s just that the smarter and/or more experienced ones do not admit that that was part of their cumulative analysis.


Posted Dec 21, 2022 at 08:30:28

So the issue is not whether they will use the exercise of a right in their investigative, detention or arrest decisions, but whether or not they will admit in testimony that it was part of their decision-making process.



Posted Dec 23, 2022 at 08:54:10

If the officer ask the passenger to step out of the vehicle (after refusing to give I’d) and conducts a pat down of the passenger for safety, is the officer allowed to go through your wallet, and just get your license himself?

Also during the stop when the officer runs the driver information and it comes back with a warrant or any other serious offense is the passenger then required to identify himself?


Posted Jan 09, 2023 at 10:41:56

Taking a person’s wallet and looking through it when an officer does not have probable cause to arrest a person would be an unconstitutional search and seizure.

Depends on the circumstances to some degree. If the person is going to drive the vehicle from the scene, then the officer can require proof of a valid license before allowing that to happen. If the stop is on an interstate highway or other areas where pedestrians are not alllowed, then it presents an issue. If the person walks from the scene, they can be arrested for that offense and decision to effect a custodial arrest rather than issue a ticket would likely be based on the fact that the officer does not know who the person is.


Steven Teixeira

Posted Feb 11, 2023 at 00:05:11

Mr Black, you are professional and patient. There is so much misinformation out here and so many of us can not afford a simple consult with a lawyer. The amount of difference it would make if lawyers had a half day once a month where they would open their doors and offer advice for free is almost unfathomable. Thank you for your time, sir.



Posted Mar 20, 2023 at 20:31:20

Ive read all the comments and I just wanted to voice my opion. I respect law enforcement in general it would be total chaos without them. But I do have to respectfully disagree with the general assumption of the language used in the defining of what officers can and cant do is very intentionally misleading. When you say police officers have the legal authority to request identification from everyone its reverse psychology. Let me give you an example: A child in a store walks up to the mother and says I have the legal authority to ask you if I can have this toy. I mean yes everyone has free speech rights including the police officer asking for an ID. But that is ALL it is, is just him or her having the freedom of speech right and it has nothing to do with his or her authority as a police officer. But putting the word authority into the sentence of his or her right as a police officer is intimidating when read and should be corrected in my opion. You could say the passenger has the authority to refuse and it would mean the same thing. Also the argument of saying that they are asking for officer safety is an overzealous excuse because the officer is only asking to run a background check and the last thing on their mind if someone refuses isn’t oh I see they just want to exercise their right to refuse. They think that they are refusing because they have a warrant and the situation will escalate from that point on. So if its really about officer safety rather than the officer persisting for the ID they SHOULD respect the right of the passenger and get on with the reason why they pulled over the vehicle to begin with. Lastly and this goes out to all the passengers use your fifth amendment right in response to their ID request and that SHOULD be the end of it! There are no state laws that trump constitutional rights. Thank you.


Posted Mar 23, 2023 at 07:57:16

So, the defect in your example is that you premise that everyone knows that there is this First Amendment right.

The article began and was prompted by the fact that I had multiple clients and prospective clients say to me that the officer asked for a passenger’s identification and that officers are not allowed to do that. So, it’s not a situation where there is universal agreement as to what the officer can say or ask. There are a whole lot of people who believe that law enforcement officers are restricted from asking that and other things.

There is no intent to mislead. I sought and have continued to seek to make it clear that the officer can ask a passenger for identification and that the passenger can comply or not as they choose, A decision to withhold identification may lead to additional actions by the officer to determine the identity of the person with whom they are speaking. With regard to that last, there can be situations where the officer can exceed his or her authority given the circumstances if they push it too far.



Posted Mar 29, 2023 at 12:56:47

Sean, are drivers of fleet-registered vehicles required to produced vehicle registration during a traffic stop in Georgia? I have found fairly clear law regarding fleet insurance card requirements but nothing that says the registration paperwork / proof of registration is required by law and whether a Georgia driver can be cited when they have fleet insurance proof but not registration proof. Seems like the tag sticker on the back would be enough, since the officer can easily check that (?)


Steven Hale

Posted Mar 30, 2023 at 10:03:44

Quick question is failure to have your seatbelt on as a passenger considered a crime? The reason I ask if the passenger doesn’t have the seat belt on is he required by law to give his ID. The reason I ask if it’s considered a crime then yes I think he would have to give his ID but if it’s considered just a citation is that still considered a crime under law that would force him to ID himself? The driver had his seatbelt on and was no way pulled over for anything else other than the passenger did not have the seat belt on so does the passenger have to give his ID. ?



Posted Apr 14, 2023 at 14:57:26

It is every citizens duty to know their rights. I know that not everyone knows their rights but they should. Our country would be much better off if everyone knew their rights they should make it a requirement that you cannot get your high school diploma or citizenship until you know and understand your rights. Half of the problem is that people do not know their rights but should. I wanted to thank Mr Black for this website that educates we the people. Most lawyers charge you a consulting fee for this info so thank you Mr Black. And to the passengers out there officers who drag you into a traffic stop interaction respond with using your fifth amendment right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. The officer can exceed his or her authority but as long as you remain calm cool and collected you will be fine because the constitution will protect you in the long run.



Posted Apr 24, 2023 at 18:05:34

I’m wondering why it’s ok for cops to lie to you, but if you lie to them you are charged???


Posted Apr 28, 2023 at 08:35:33

OCGA 40-2-8 sets penalties for operating a vehicle without registration or a valid license plate. OCGA 40-2-20 sets the rules for registration generally. There are special rules for fleet vehicles.

I think your question, though, is whether if the vehicle has a valid plate, are your required to have the registration document in the vehicle. On a quick look, I was unable to find that there is such a requirement, although I lean toward it being a good idea as an operator to have that document.


Posted Apr 28, 2023 at 08:47:41

OCGA 40-8-76.1(e)(1) states that failure to comply with the seat belt requirement of subsection (b) of the Code section (front seat occupants required to use seat belts) is not a criminal act and is not a moving traffic violation. A citation can be issued. If the officer is going to issue a citation, there would need to be some method of identification so that the citation could be filled in.

None of the annotated cases address the situation you describe: where the officer has probable cause to charge the front seat passenger but the front seat passenger will not identify himself or herself or provide identification, what are the officer’s options?

I do not think that the officer is required to give up and just let the person go without issuing a ticket, but I could find no Georgia cases answering the question.


Posted Apr 28, 2023 at 09:15:44

You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink. Whether it is a formal civics class or it is incorporated into social studies or history classes, just about everyone has the opportunity to learn about their rights during their school career.


Posted Apr 28, 2023 at 09:23:59

Good question. Sometimes juries have the same reaction that you do and say that it is not right and refuse to convict based on those kinds of shenanigans.



Posted May 17, 2023 at 09:48:06

I lived in Missouri from 2002 till this past April. A passenger does not have to show 🪪 or give their name if asked. I was asked by law enforcement for 🪪 and I asked them am I being detained or under investigation. First he said yes then I said I have my seatbelt on. Then he said he would like to know who he is talking too. I told him that we didn’t have to talk. Then he asked me out of the car and brought in a in which they found nothing. I never told my name or showed an 🪪.


M LMcCarren

Posted May 22, 2023 at 20:30:25

The internet is awash with videos of traffic stops. Most often is the case that an officer who is immediately asked why he initiated the traffic stop will say:
“I’ll explain that AFTER your provide license, registration, and proof of insurance.”

This has the effect of depriving you the ability to determine if it is a lawful command.

An officer’s order to produce ID is certainly lawful if you have committed a violation, but there are times when there is no infraction. When the stop is for a supposed suspicious driver, welfare check, etc. and no crime has been committed. So if you find this out after having surrendered your ID, then it seems to me you I’ve been deprived the ability to determine whether the request for ID is indeed a lawful order.

Would it not be reasonable to require police to articulate the reason for the stop from the beginning?
If the police have no reasonable suspicion that you are committing, have committed, or are about to commit a crime, then isn’t it true they have no right to ID you?

Thanks for your time.



Posted May 23, 2023 at 05:32:31

It would indeed be helpful on many levels if the officer was required to articulate the reasons for the stop at the beginning of the stop. Unfortunately, that has not been held to be required and, in Georgia at least, the legislature has not imposed that requirement. With that being the case, the evaluation of whether the stop was lawful and the commands made incident to the stop are lawful is not vested in the person being detained and questioned but in a judge if charges are ultimately made.


Russ Thompson

Posted Aug 12, 2023 at 07:05:43

Do passengers in a vehicle, in Ohio, have to ID, being only a traffic infraction and no other circumstances? The Ohio ACLU page says Ohioans must ID. Is this true?


Posted Aug 14, 2023 at 05:57:06

I am not familiar with Ohio law requirements regard identification. I tend to trust ACLU on those types of issues.


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