When Can Police Ask For ID?

Flex Your Rights

What if police come up to me asking for ID?

Carrying an ID is required when you’re driving but there’s otherwise no law requiring you to carry an ID but in some states police can require you to give your name if they have reasonable suspicion to believe you’re involved in criminal activity.

How do you know if police have reasonable suspicion?

Remember police need reasonable suspicion to detain you so one way to tell if they have reasonable suspicion is to ask if you’re free to go.

What if they don’t let me go?

Then you’re being detained because the officer thinks there’s some reason to suspect you of a crime.  In that situation you could be arrested if you refuse to reveal your identity.  Technically police can’t make you identify yourself anytime they want, but on the street withholding your identity frequently leads to a detention or even an arrest.  If your goal is to just get the encounter over with then identifying yourself might be your best option but if you’re prepared to fight things out in court you can flex your rights by refusing to cooperate with random ID requests.