By Jedidiah McKeehan

This is the very first article I have written in response to a reader’s question. Pretty specific question actually. If someone is a passenger in a vehicle, and that vehicle is stopped, does the passenger have to tell their police their name?

First off, if you are up to speed on all of your rights as a citizen, but the police officer is not, then the police officer may order you to do some things that you are not legally required to do. What are you to do in those circumstances? Well, you can stick to your guns and say that you are not complying. If you do this, the officer may arrest you because he believes he is in the right and you are not.

The other option would be to comply, and forego your legal rights, but potentially avoid being jailed in the short-term.

So what’s the answer to our question? Both yes and no. There basically has to be reasonable suspicion of a passenger committing a crime before they are asked for their name. So if the driver is pulled over for speeding, there is no reason to believe that the passenger has committed a crime, and therefore should not be required to provide their name if the driver is pulled over.

However, if the officer “smells marijuana” within the vehicle, then there is a reasonable suspicion that the passenger may be the one possessing the illegal substance and therefore the passenger would be required to identify themselves to the inquiring police officer.

So for our reader who asked, and all of those other inquisitive minds out there, there is your answer!


Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.