January 11, 2021 Feature

Finding the Limit to “Stop and Identify” Statutes

Kent Steinberg

A police officer on patrol sees a car going 20 miles above the speed limit. They turn on their siren, and the car pulls over. The police officer takes out a pad to write a citation, steps out of their car, and approaches the driver’s side. They see that the car has both a driver and a passenger. The police officer is in a state that has a “stop and identify” statute requiring a suspect to give identification to a police officer if demanded pursuant to a lawful stop, and if the suspect doesn’t do so, the police officer may arrest them. The police officer demands that the driver provide identification, and the driver complies. The police officer then demands identification from the passenger, who has not done anything to give the officer a reasonable suspicion they have committed or will commit a crime. Is it constitutionally permissible for the police officer to demand identification from a passenger who has done nothing wrong?

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