Law Blog

What Information Do I Have to Give to the Police?

When a police officer contacts a driver, RCW 46.61.020 requires the driver to cooperate with law enforcement, specifically by giving his or her name, address, and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle.  Drivers must also produce, upon request, the vehicle registration, insurance card, and their driver’s license.  The registration must be signed by the registered owner and in the vehicle at all times.

You are not required to answer all of an officer’s questions, like where you were coming from, where you are going, etc. If you don’t feel comfortable providing answers to a police officer, simply say “I don’t feel comfortable answering that” or shake your head.

At any time, feel free to ask the officer: “Am I being detained or am I free to go?”  The officer is only allowed to detain you for as long as is reasonably necessary to effectuate the stop and investigate suspected criminal activity, I.E. long enough to write you a ticket.  If the officer says you are not being detained, you may terminate contact.  However, do not resist if the officer prevents you from leaving and remember your right to remain silent.  If there is an illegal search or seizure, any evidence obtained can be challenged by your attorney later.

Furthermore, always be polite to police officers.  Most are simply just trying to do their job.  Acting like a jerk can hurt your case later in numerous ways.