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Are you required by law to carry around identification?
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Are you required by law to carry around identification?

Recently I was at a party where there was alcohol, no drugs. Everyone was over 21, over 25 even. I was the only person who was not drinking. Things got kid of rowdy after awhile because we all started playing video games and it got heated because we were betting money.
So one of the neighbours called the police. They came to tell us to turn the music down and to keep our voices down. They saw that there was alcohol and that we all looked young so they carded us all. When I told them I didn't have an ID on me they asked me why and I responded by telling them I don't drink and I wasn't driving so I didn't need one.
They decided they were going to arrest me. The police officer was very rude and nasty to me and he shoved me around and pushed me into the car. We got to the station and I called my father, who used to be a judge in the state of Maryland, the state I live in, and who is now a practicing lawyer. My father brought along my wallet in the event they were going to try and cite me for underage drinking. He informed them that there is no law requiring American citizen to carry around identification with them. If you aren't drinking, if you aren't driving, or if you aren't making credit card purchases then you do not need to have an ID on you.
The officers called someone up and about an hour later they let me go with my father without charge or citation. These police officers embarrassed me in front of my friends and my family. They were rude to me, they man handled me, and they lied to me. All things I would expect from a police officer.

My father said he will help me to file a lawsuit, but I want to be sure that it is not illegal to not carry an ID on you in the state of Maryland. Why would they have arrested me if it weren't illegal? Shouldn't police officers know the laws they are supposed to enforce?

Let me say, they said they had no plans of charging me with underage drinking. They did not arrest me on suspicions of underage drinking.

This is actually really scary. With the way the government has been expanding lately I worry these things will happen more and more.
Additional Details
Okay, you people are ALL wrong. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that citizens are not require to have ID on them. Stop giving out false information.


I would trust your father on this, he is a former Judge and a Lawyer.

as far as I know, you do not need to carry Identification on you, unless you're doing something which requires it.

Since your father is a lawyer and used to be a judge you should just let him handle it. Obviously you weren't doing anything illegal/it wasn't illegal because the didn't cite or charge you with anything. I think they probably had the right to wait there until someone brought your ID if they though you could have been drinking or given you a breathalizer to see just incase you could have been underage, but I don't think they had the right to arrest you.

In Canada, you are not required to carry ID, unless you are in the Military. I do not know for sure, but I expect the Mounties (RCMP) would as well.

You are right that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled so. But why the hell ask if you already know?

u couldnt be more right, these things are happening more often since the govt is getting bigger. i live in maryland too, and while we are propbably the lease free state, i am 99% sure there is no need to carry a id all the time, some people dont have driving licenses. they were wrong and u should pursue some type of law suit, listen to your father, stand up for your freedoms

I can't speak to Maryland law specifically, because I haven't researched it. I do know that some states have what are commonly called "stop and identify" laws, which state that any person when asked must produce identification. If that person cannot, then he or she may be detained by the police until identity can be verified. It sounds like this might have been the case, but as I said, I can't speak for Maryland specifically.

EDIT: I would like to know what Supreme Court case you are referring to. The most recent example of which I am aware is the 2004 ruling on Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial Disctrict Court of Nevada, which upheld that laws requiring individuals to identify themselves during police investigations do not violate the Fourth or Fifth Amendments. Accordingly, certain states and municipalities themselves within other states do still use stop and identify laws.

I am not trying to argue with you; I sincerely want to know if another ruling has modified the Court's interpretation.

Well you really stand corrected. maybe the State of Maryland your Ok but; this question asked about; is it legal not to give identification and can you legally be arrested. "YES"
The law is know as the stop and frisk law under TERRY.The law actually evolves from the old english vagrancy laws as far back as 15 Geo 2, ch5, 2, (1744), it is further extended to our laws in the old west as if you cannot be Identified you could be shot. Today we have incorporated it into the Uniform Arrest Act 28 va L rev 315, 344 (1942), The Model Penal Code 250.6 and most recently under Hiibel v Sixth Judicial District, Court of Nev 542 US 177 (2004) which upheld the officer right to ask for identification and if none was garnered, you would and could legally be arrested until it ascertain whom you are, or who you say you may be? The 4th, 5th and 14th amendments were stated to have been violated, and the court said no they were not.

Maryland law could be different, and municipal laws can be different. But here there is no requirement to carry ID. However, that doesn't mean you didn't put yourself in a situation where ID was necessary. If there was alcohol, the burden of proof could be on you to prove that you were old enough to be around that. I would consider this angle. For the officer, it could depend on what reasonable suspicion or probable cause he was able to articulate. If a reasonable person would have believed you to be too young, then he could reasonably detain you, etc etc. The rudeness can be handled separately through his supervisor. I agree we are losing lots of rights without much of a whimper.
It's always a good idea to have ID regardless of the law. If you get hurt, having ID can quicken access to your medical records, etc. Additionally, if you had needed to drive for one of the drunk persons you'd have needed it.

Andrew P
And yet if you had your ID on you and showed that to the cops, you wouldn't have had such a bad ordeal.

I'd suggest carrying ID on you in the future.

Your dad is full of it and won't get you any lawsuit. Firstly, its unethical and can actually lead to him being punished for doing so, and secondly it doesn't seem the police did anything wrong. More than likely you were not respectful and may have given the police the idea you were not being truthful about your identity or you were trying to hide something.

The police were right in arresting you because even though it is not illegal to not carry ID with you, it is the responsibility of the police to find out who you are. If they are unable to find out who you are they have every right to arrest you, even if later on you are not cited or charged with anything.

Your best bet is going to leave it alone and move on. If you feel the police were rude to you beyond what should be expected and you didn't attempt to aggravate the situation, then you can report them to their superiors... beyond that you're not going to find any judge taking up your case.

In the United States every person must carry some kind of identification. (it is a law)

Yup, you gotta.

Steven J
Yes, you are also required to carry a small amount of cash too.

This has been the law for along time, against vagrants. It is nothing for you to fear. If you can remember your drivers license number or social security number it should suffice as a I.D..

scott whittle
Not carring an identification card is is not grounds for arrest anywhere in the U.S. However if you are being investigated for something ( a disturbance, driving, drinking, or a suspect in a crime or other legal investigation) then and only then may you be required to identify yourself. Even then, you are not required to provide proof in the form of an identification card, but you are required to cooperate and tell who you are and where you reside so that you can be positively identified . If you ave engaged in an activity that has resulted in a legal and lawfull investigation then you must do these things. To do otherwise would generally be an obstruction of justice. Additionally an officer may detain (not arrest) you if you are suspected of an infraction or crime and you cannot positively identify yourself . The detainment allows the police to positively identify who you are while they investigate the matter. If the police determine that they have probable cause to make an arrest then they will arrest you.. If not they are required to release you from detainment (habeas corpus)If you are arrested you should see a judge within a day or two to determine whether there was probable cause for the arrest. If the judge finds probable cause for the arrest you are still entitled to a trial or hearing depending onthe type of case . At your trial or hearing the state must proof you committed the crime or infraction.

You are not required to carry an ID unless you are engaging in an activity that would require one. A concealed carry permit in the case of a concealed firearm, and a driver's license in the case of driving, etc. You CANNOT be arrested for not carrying identification - you can, however, be detained. Some states require you to have a state-issued ID with your current address, but you are NOT required to carry it on you the vast majority of the time.

you are required to carry ID for activities that might have need for proving your bonafides, such as motor vehicle operation or entering an establishment that allows drinking. the presence of alcohol was grounds for them to ask everyone present to show ID, given that legal drinking age is 21 years old.

It doesn't sound like you were arrested but rather detained. You may not be required by law to carry ID in your state but this situation SHOULE have taught you a lesson...it is a good idea to have it with you to avoid being detained until you can get your ID. But instead of learning a lesson, it sounds like you and perhaps your father are looking to cash in on it. A shame that your father may be choosing to teach you the world of frivelous lawsuits rather than encouraging you to learn from your mistakes.

Why are you going to sue? They were doing their job. Quit looking at any way to make a buck. You are the reason this country is broke. All you will achieve is clogging up the court system with frivolous lawsuits and then if you should get a settlement you will be taking money from hard working Americans. If you get a settlement the PD insurance will go up and hurt your local community but you could careless because you got yours. You disgust me.

Mark C
The assorted imbeciles here who believe there is a law requiring a citizen to carry identification at all times should blow whatever is passing for their brains out for the benefit of the gene pool, as there is no such law.

Darren Utticheck
If it were the law in the United States, then they would be required to pay for your identification. there are a number of people who do not have Identification that are over the age of 18. Whether or not they as depends on how you interact with them when they approach you. And in the state of Nevada that law say they can ask you to identify your self, but you can do that by just giving them your name. they can look you up in the system by your name.

why all the hate... He was just asking a question... Bored and angry much? anyway i am a retired police officer and i have full authority to detaine anyone that cannot identify themselves... I can hold you untl i can reach a satisfactory level of identification. ... Think about it... we as police officers identify felons with warrents walking the streets all the time... If i can id them they keep walking? sounds a little crazy ... but then again maybe they can stop byyour place and explaine to you and your family the reason most people with a warrent dont carry ID... just sayin

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