A police officer can require that you show your ID if you are driving a vehicle or in certain cases involving alcohol, marijuana, or carrying a concealed firearm:
- When the subject is a driver stopped for a traffic infraction investigation (RCW 46.61.021) failure to provide identification is a misdemeanor
- When the subject is attempting to purchase liquor (RCW 66.20.180)
- When the subject is carrying a concealed pistol (RCW 9.41.050) failure to provide CPL is a civil infraction
but in almost every other case you are NOT REQUIRED to identify yourself to a police officer, nor can you be arrested or charged with obstruction for refusing to do so.
". . . A DETAINEES REFUSAL TO DISCLOSE HIS NAME ADDRESS, AND OTHER INFORMATION CANNOT BE THE BASIS OF AN ARREST." State v. White, 97 Wn.2d 92, at 103, 640 P.2d 1061 (1982);
"Defendant could not be arrested for refusing to give law enforcement officer his name pursuant to a statute prohibiting obstruction of public servant in discharge of his official powers." West's RCWA 9A.76.020(3).-State v. Hoffman, 664 P.2d 1259, 35 Wash. App. 13, 16, 664 P.2d 1259 (1983).;
"Probable cause is not established by failing to present identification upon request by a law enforcement officer, . . ." Moya v. United States , 761 F.2d 322, at 325-326 (Sept. 21, 1984).
"Indeed, there is no general requirement in this country for citizens to carry any identification." State v. Barwick, 66 Wn. App. 706 at 709, 833 P.2d 421 (July 30, 1992).
The Seattle Police Department Manual, Section 6.220 - Voluntary Contacts, Terry Stops & Detentions - states:
5. Officers Cannot Require Subjects to Identify Themselves or Answer Questions on a Terry Stop
During a Terry stop, officers may request identification; however, subjects are not obligated to provide identification or information upon request.
(POL-3) Officers may not transport a person to any police facility or jail for the sole purpose of identifying them unless they have probable cause for arrest.
Illegally gathering information about American citizens, maintaining unauthorized records and databases, conducting illegal investigations, manufacturing false evidence, and submitting false police reports and perjured testimony is an on-going problem in many police departments. Anytime you present your ID to the police, your personal identifying information may be entered into one of these databases.
If you feel that you must carry some form of ID, consider a US Passport card. There is no question that this is valid government ID, but it is not linked to local police databases and does not contain your address. If you feel you must present ID to the police then provide a passport card and shut up. The police are detaining you, and you should never talk to the police under these circumstances without your attorney present.
The following web-sites can help you know how to properly respond when confronted by corrupt police.
When Can Police Ask For ID?
What to Do If You Are Stopped By The Police (ACLU of Washington)
DON'T TALK TO THE POLICE ~ EVER!