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In Washington it is a misdemeanor for the driver of a vehicle to refuse to give a police officer his or her driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance identification card when he is pulled over for a traffic violation. On the other hand, the passengers in a car are not in control of the vehicle and their identity did not cause the police to stop the driver. This doesn’t stop the officer from attempting to get as much information as possible leaving passengers to wonder what they are required to do if the officer begins to question them or asks them for identification. 

A Passenger’s Rights in Washington

In Washington State the passengers of a vehicle are seen as independent of the driver and regarded as having undiminished privacy rights when the vehicle is pulled over by the police.  The officer may ask a passenger for identification. He or she may ask passengers other questions as well. What is important to know is that in Washington the officer may not require passengers to give identification and a passenger is not required to answer questions and may decline to answer. The passenger would even be free to exit the car and walk away from the scene unless the officers could later convince the court that they had specific facts that made them believe that their safety was at risk or they had probable cause to believe the passenger had committed a crime.

If you are a passenger when pulled over in a traffic stop you may refuse to give the officer your ID or answer questions but please remember that it is always in your best interests to remain calm and polite when asserting your rights. 

Circumstances that can Change the Rights of the Passenger

As with all legal matters, there are exceptions to these rules. These exceptions include circumstances such as when the officer has legitimate safety concerns or the officer has probable cause to believe that the passenger has committed a crime. These exceptions would allow the officer to question passengers or even to order the passengers out of the car or to remain in the car. Additionally in cases where the police have arrested the driver for a criminal offense, the nature of the stop changes and it is assumed that there could be safety concerns as well as the possibility of the destruction or hiding of evidence. If you have questions regarding a criminal case please contact us at or (253) 236- 4079.

My friend just got pulled over and I’m a passenger in the car, do I have to show my license too?

If you have questions about your case, please contact us at or (253) 236-4079.

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