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Police may ask for ID under most scenarios

Since You Asked

I listen to a radio scanner. I have noticed that during most ordinary traffic stops, officers request the identification of not only the driver of the vehicle but also the passengers. All are run for wants and warrants, not to mention past violations. Does a passenger have any rights that allow him or her the option to say, No, you may not have my information, officer?

' Wanda J., White City

Individual situations must be considered on this one, Wanda, so there's no straight answer. But the bottom line is, if you haven't been notified that you violated a law, you don't have to identify yourself.

When police ask all riders in a vehicle for their identification, they're usually just trying to see who's who in a car, said Medford police Lt. Mike Moran. If it's obvious that a vehicle's passengers are committing or have committed a crime, police are justified in asking for passengers' ID, Moran said. Also, police are entitled to see a person's ID if officers are investigating to determine if a crime is occurring or has occurred ' a minor in possession of alcohol, for example, Moran added.

If you ask an officer the purpose for viewing your identification, he should explain unless the situation is an emergency, Moran said. Providing false information ' including names, vehicle registration or insurance ' is a crime.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to