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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    1

    Unhappy Can the State Require You to Carry ID Even When Not Driving

    My question involves civil rights in the State of: Rhode Island

    I hope this is the right area, I wasn't sure if I should go here or in the accident area.

    Recently, myself and my husband were pulled over because I had turned around in a parking lot on the end of our street. The officer thought this was "suspicious behavior" even though they had resurfaced the sidewalk in front of the parking lot earlier that day, and we thought we weren't supposed to drive on it yet, because when we got to the lot, we could see the barricades were still up. We didn't see that the barricade was only for one section of the exit, we thought it was for the whole thing, thus we turned around. (Our street has two exits, one is through a parking lot for a furniture store, the other is onto a very busy street. We usually exit by the parking lot, because people driving on the street often drive very fast, and there have been a number of accidents there. It is safer to use the parking lot to exit, and the store owner doesn't mind.)

    When we were pulled over, I was driving. I produced my drivers license. The officer demanded to see my husband's driver's license as well. He (husband) pointed out that since he was not driving and was not planning on going anywhere where a license was required, he hadn't brought it. The officer told him that under Rhode Island law, when we got our license, we agreed to carry it on us at all times, no matter what we were doing.

    I admit, I did not read every single word of my license renewal, but I was rather shocked to be told this. Having to carry your license on you at all times is something that is usually expected in countries where freedom is seriously restricted.

    After running my drivers license, the officer let us go, but sternly warned my husband that he'd better never be caught outside without his drivers license on him ever again, the implication being that if he was, he would be in serious trouble.

    Is this really a law in RI? And how can they get away with it? I never drive without my licenses on me, but there are times when I go out walking or other activities where I'm not driving and I don't carry my license. I didn't know that at any time, a police officer could come up to me and demand I show ID, if I wasn't doing anything illegal or suspicious.

    Yes, I understand that turning around in the parking lot was suspicious, however, I was the one turning around, not my husband. I had my license on me.

    Thanks for any help anyone can give me for this question. It's really bothering me. If it is the law in Rhode Island, then that tells me that this country is not the same country I was born into.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Toledo, OH
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    Default Re: License Must Be Carried Even when Not Driving

    I have scoured the RI DMV site, and cannot find any such regulation. Neither have I been able to find any mention of such a regulation in numerous searches.

    Honestly, I've never heard of drivers being required to carry their licenses even when not driving in any state of the Union. The only mention I've found in my searches has pertained to having it on you while driving, Rhode Island included:

    § 31-10-27 License to be carried and exhibited on demand. – (a) Every licensee shall have his or her operator's or chauffeur's license in his or her immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and shall display the license upon the demand of any peace office or inspector of the division of motor vehicles and shall, upon request by any proper officer, write his or her name in the presence of that officer for the purpose of being identified. However, no person charged with violating this section shall be convicted if he or she produces in court or the office of the arresting officer an operator's or chauffeur's license previously issued to him or her and valid at the time of his or her arrest.

    http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Statute...0/31-10-27.HTM
    While it's certainly a good idea to have ID on you (in the unfortunate instance of being mashed by a bus, for example), I can't find anything requiring it.

    I spent my dinner hour discussing this with my husband, who is regularly stopped for what we call "driving while Brown" (he is of Middle Eastern descent). You don't mention your race...but is it possible that this is what happened to you?

    Call the DMV in the morning and ask if this officer was correct, and demand the exact statute if you are told it is. If it is not, consider filing a complaint with the police department (even if you're white).
    I'm not a lawyer, but I play a researcher on the internet!
    Caution: I bite. WARNING: Do not send questions or complaints by PM. I'm likely to post them publicly and embarrass you half to death.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: License Must Be Carried Even when Not Driving

    I know Massachusetts passed a law allowing the police to ask for ID from car passengers anytime a vehicle is pulled over but I wasn't aware that RI came on board with that one yet. Maybe part of some Homeland security effort who knows.

    I don't believe that it's a law that RIers carry their license or ID at all times but it sure is a good idea. In a car or on the street you have a much less expectation of privacy than in your home.

    It's doubtful the police had sufficient probable cause to even stop you in the first place but just try proving that these days. Certainly any attempt to argue or ask the officer for that statute at that time would have resulted in your husband being detained for a fingerprinting. Civil rights don't exist at that point.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    3,837

    Default Re: License Must Be Carried Even when Not Driving

    Quote Quoting Darqstar
    View Post
    I admit, I did not read every single word of my license renewal, but I was rather shocked to be told this. Having to carry your license on you at all times is something that is usually expected in countries where freedom is seriously restricted.

    After running my drivers license, the officer let us go, but sternly warned my husband that he'd better never be caught outside without his drivers license on him ever again, the implication being that if he was, he would be in serious trouble.


    Yes, I understand that turning around in the parking lot was suspicious, however, I was the one turning around, not my husband. I had my license on me.

    Thanks for any help anyone can give me for this question. It's really bothering me. If it is the law in Rhode Island, then that tells me that this country is not the same country I was born into.

    Your behavior was not suspicious, it was just turned into an "investigatory stop", by a cop who had nothing else to do, see the Terry v. Ohio case in opinion. Of course if the stop was complained of, he would just enforce the stop with other facts.

    Is this really a law in RI? And how can they get away with it? I never drive without my licenses on me, but there are times when I go out walking or other activities where I'm not driving and I don't carry my license.

    Never heard of such a thing in all the 50 that joined the Union. He was just being a big shot. Let's assume for the sake of argument, this archaic/contemporary law exists and your husband did not have it on him while a passenger, he would NOT be in "serious" trouble, again the officer has a heavy badge, he likes to flaunt it.

    The US SC has ruled the punishment for a crime must be proportional to the crime, regardless of classification.


    I didn't know that at any time, a police officer could come up to me and demand I show ID, if I wasn't doing anything illegal or suspicious.


    There is nothing in the federal constitution that forbids "simply asking", even without any individualized suspicion. As of the initial contact it would be a "police -citizen encounter". However, to make a DEMAND of such, there must be a constitutional/statutory reason. Does the RI constitution forbid such without cause in spite of the federal's authority?? Most probably not!!

    Hiibel her outlines such, as a primer for you on this topic.


    http://supreme.justia.com/us/542/03-5554/case.html

  5. #5
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: License Must Be Carried Even when Not Driving

    Quote Quoting MorningCoffee
    View Post
    I know Massachusetts passed a law allowing the police to ask for ID from car passengers anytime a vehicle is pulled over but I wasn't aware that RI came on board with that one yet. Maybe part of some Homeland security effort who knows.

    Can you cite the law please, I am curious! I want to see what, if any penalties, are prescribed for a violation!

    Under Hiibel, without any individualized suspicion of a passenger during an investigatory stop of a driver, what legal justification there would be for a penalty!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: License Must Be Carried Even when Not Driving

    Dargstar, this is the the only "stop and identify" statute, per Hiibel, I could find for RI:

    § 12-7-1 Temporary detention of suspects. – A peace officer may detain any person abroad whom he or she has reason to suspect is committing, has committed, or is about to commit a crime, and may demand of the person his or her name, address, business abroad, and destination; and any person who fails to identify himself or herself and explain his or her actions to the satisfaction of the peace officer may be further detained and further questioned and investigated by any peace officer; provided, in no case shall the total period of the detention exceed two (2) hours, and the detention shall not be recorded as an arrest in any official record. At the end of the detention period the person so detained shall be released unless arrested and charged with a crime.


    Unless your specific municipality has such a law AND the person is "under investigation" there is NO mandate you show an officer an ID.

    Say for example, you are walking down the street and an officer pulls up and requests to see your ID. You can ask "Am I under investigation"? If the answer is NO, then you can refuse.

    Additionally Hiibel does NOT mandate an ID be furnished, as some do not have one, either a DL or state issued identification card, your NAME will suffice.

    Of course, if driving, you must have a DL.

  7. #7

    Default Re: License Must Be Carried Even when Not Driving

    There is no law in MA that says you have to carry ID but police have the right to ask for ID from passengers during a stop. They are looking for warrants on passengers. I'll have to look up the statute but its been in effect for several years now.

    Quote Quoting BOR
    View Post
    Can you cite the law please, I am curious! I want to see what, if any penalties, are prescribed for a violation!

    Under Hiibel, without any individualized suspicion of a passenger during an investigatory stop of a driver, what legal justification there would be for a penalty!

  8. #8

    Default Re: License Must Be Carried Even when Not Driving

    Its not as cut and dry as I had heard. They have the right to ask for the 'true name and address' of any occupant of a vehicle at the officers request one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise. Does this violate Hiibel?

    There was a law enacted to force any passenger that wasn't wearing a seatbelt to give ID for the purposes of a citation but that may have been reversed because I can't find the wording anywhere.

    MGL Chapter 85: Section 16.

    There was a case a few years back where a south shore Massachusetts musician had a handheld digital recorder and taped police who had pulled him over harassing him and threaten to plant cocaine on him. When he sued police he was criminally charged with illegally taping the police. Thats a true story. My point is that police and lower courts don't readily recognize legal nuances that are precedent and someone on the street is often at the mercy of these 'people' till someone pushes back and wins. They are really looking for a way to do a warrant check and will lie about whatever is necessary to get the probable cause ('I smelled the odor of marijuana', or furtive movements which is my favorite) by hook or crook to expand the scope of the stop if they want to.

  9. #9
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    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: License Must Be Carried Even when Not Driving

    Quote Quoting MorningCoffee
    View Post
    Its not as cut and dry as I had heard. They have the right to ask for the 'true name and address' of any occupant of a vehicle at the officers request one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise. Does this violate Hiibel?

    No, it does not violate Hiibel, as it only concerned the "criminalization" of a refusal to provide ID/name when under suspicion and refusal to do so, as you can read the case.


    There was a law enacted to force any passenger that wasn't wearing a seatbelt to give ID for the purposes of a citation but that may have been reversed because I can't find the wording anywhere.
    If the law was a passenger had to wear one, just as a driver, and they were violating that, then they were mandated to show ID/give name when requested, yes, as they could have been cited for it.

    MGL Chapter 85: Section 16.
    PART I. ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT

    TITLE XIV. PUBLIC WAYS AND WORKS

    CHAPTER 85. REGULATIONS AND BY-LAWS RELATIVE TO WAYS AND BRIDGES

    Chapter 85: Section 16. Duty of driver at night to give name to officer on request

    Section 16. Every person shall while driving or in charge of or occupying a vehicle during the period from one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise, when requested by a police officer, give his true name and address.

    Hmm, interesting. You say this has only been in effect for a few years, huh!

    It does seem to indicate that a passenger has an obligation to show ID as well as the driver? It seems very redundant though, as a driver has to provide identity anyway??

    It seems at odds, but giving a true name when asked, I am sure is codified under some other type of statute also, such as obstruction/falsification etc.

    IF the passenger was NOT under an individualized suspicion of wrongdoing, and they stood mute when asked, they could not be charged, IMO, per Hiibel. Also it provides no penalty for failure to do so. I do not know if a penalty is in a seperate section or not. I tried to ascertain that.

    This section would seem to fall under the cases cited in Hiibel, where as I said, there is nothing in the federal constitution that fordids an officer from simply asking, criminalization for refusal is another matter.

    Next time you get a chance, pay a visit to a library where they have the MA laws, look up this law as cited and see if any case law annotations exist on it.


    There was a case a few years back where a south shore Massachusetts musician had a handheld digital recorder and taped police who had pulled him over harassing him and threaten to plant cocaine on him. When he sued police he was criminally charged with illegally taping the police. Thats a true story. My point is that police and lower courts don't readily recognize legal nuances that are precedent and someone on the street is often at the mercy of these 'people' till someone pushes back and wins.

    I think it was PA also that even thier SC ruled a citizen can not videotape/record a police stop when they are pulled over.

    This would seem to fly directly in the face of the 1st Amendment, but unless challenged upwards, the decision stands.

    Remember this case out of MO. The driver filed a federal lawsuit against the officer after he was caught on video threatening to make up charges on him.

    http://www.aclu-em.org/downloads/Com...ileStamped.pdf


    They are really looking for a way to do a warrant check and will lie about whatever is necessary to get the probable cause ('I smelled the odor of marijuana', or furtive movements which is my favorite) by hook or crook to expand the scope of the stop if they want to.
    Yes, crooked cops will do anything to score a bust.

    I was stopped a few years back for having my license plate lights out. The officer was courteous and so on and gave me warning just to get it fixed, no citation. I was keeping an eye on his demeanor and demands, as I am somewhat familiar with constitutional law, not only federal, but my state's also.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    27,202

    Default Re: License Must Be Carried Even when Not Driving

    ok BOR, you got to explain this to me:

    Hiibel required the detainee to provide name as he was a suspect, not merely a party to an investigation. That was the law Hiibel was charges with anyway. Even as such, there was no support for the requirement to carry ID on the person.

    as I see it, unless a person in the vehicle is a suspect for whatever reason, there can be no required disclosure of identification. Am I wrong here or is this simply a case needing to go to the SCOTUS? Hour of the day itself, should have ne bearing on the action.

    So now, we go to Kolender v. Lawson. SCOTUS opined that an individual could not be required to carry ID unless engaged in an activity that would require such (driving or the like)

    So, what could RI or Mass enact that would allow such a requirement that abides by the SCOTUS decision in Kolender?

    I see it as another SCOTUS case in the making.

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