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Criminal Law Blog NSW

Do you have to answer police questions regarding your identification?

Generally, the police have the right to ask you questions, whether you are being arrested or not. In some situations you have the right to remain silent, but in other instances refusing to answer and provide information will not be to your advantage In almost all situations it is wise to co-operate and in some you have no choice.  Make sure that you know when you have to answer and when you may remain silent.

Situations where you have provide information about your identity.

When you are driving

You should always answer questions when you are driving any sort of vehicle. Refusing to answer questions may lead to the police imposing a fine on you, or they may serve you with a Court Attendance Notice. When requested you have to provide your name and address as well as your driver’s licence.

When you are accompanying a learner driver

You have to provide the same information as if you were driving.

If you were involved in a traffic accident

You have to give your name and address to the other driver involved in the accident, and to the police. You must also provide other details about the accident to the police.

If a vehicle that you own, or is the responsible person for, was allegedly involved in a traffic offence.

You have to provide the name and address of the driver who allegedly committed the offence to the police.

If you are the owner, driver or passenger in a vehicle suspected of being used for a serious offence, you must provide your name and address, and those of the others, to the police.

Other than in situations relating to driving, you also have to answer police questions regarding your identification in the following situations:

  • On railway property the police are allowed to ask persons for identification if they have a reasonable suspicion that such a person, or persons, have committed an offence, or is about to commit an offence. You have to comply with the request and provide information regarding your identity.
  • If you are consuming, or carrying, alcohol in a public place, and the police suspect that you are under 18 yrs old. They may request proof of your date of birth.
  • In a public disorder situation, if you are in a target area, and the police suspect that you may be involved, or become involved, in large scale public disorder, you have to answer police questions regarding your identity whilst they are executing their emergency public disorder powers.
  • If the police suspect that you have an Apprehended Violence Order against you, you have to disclose your identity when requested to do so.

The police can give you a move along direction if you are in a public space and they have reason to believe that you are obstructing another person, or traffic; or that you are harassing/intimidating another person; or that you are illegally involved in supplying or obtaining prohibited drugs. If your identity is unknown to the police, they may request identification and you have to inform them of your identity. The same applies if you are intoxicated in a public place and the police tell you to leave the area.

If the police tell you that you have to answer a question, then you should do so. You may ask the police if the law requires you to answer; if the answer is yes, you must answer. Generally you have to provide your name, address and date of birth. If you refuse to answer you may be charged with an offence for refusing. If you are a suspect in an offence the police must caution you, before interviewing you regarding the offence, and inform you of your right to remain silent.

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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