Failing to identify yourself during a police traffic stop is an offense

On Behalf of | Oct 27, 2023 | Criminal Law, Traffic Violations

Let’s say that you’re out on the road one day, just driving from your home to another destination. Sometime during your drive, a police car approaches your vehicle from behind and signals you to pull over to the shoulder. You’re not sure why the officer requested a traffic stop, but you obey anyway.

The officer explains during the stop that you committed a minor traffic violation and that they’ll hand you a ticket for the offense. Maybe it was because you failed to stop at a stop sign, or you took an illegal U-turn. Regardless of the cause, you think the officer is being unreasonable. When they ask for your driver’s license as part of the ticketing process, you refuse to hand it over, thinking you can contest the violation charge.

Unfortunately, you may have committed an additional offense under Indiana law by refusing to hand over your license or to disclose identification details during a traffic stop.

Refusal to identify self

According to Indiana law, if a person who knowingly refuses to provide either their identifying information (i.e., name, address, birthdate) or their driver’s license (if they possess it) to an officer during a traffic stop for any traffic violation, that person commits a Class C misdemeanor.

The traffic stop can be for any violation and isn’t limited to stops for suspected driving under the influence (DUI). So minor offenses such as speeding and running a red light that can lead to a traffic stop will count.

Penalties for refusing to identify self

If convicted of refusal to identify self, a person will face up to 60 days of jail time and as much as $500 in fines. These penalties may not sound like much, but the offense will still appear as a misdemeanor on a person’s criminal record, and the punishment will combine with any other penalties the person faces for their original traffic offense.

Refusing to provide any identification information when an officer asks during a traffic stop is a punishable offense. Even if the traffic stop was for a minor traffic infraction, being uncooperative can land you in hot water. Also, note that refusing to identify self is a criminal charge, and a hearing over the accusation will be separate from the administrative hearing over a traffic violation.