I have had a couple of different discussions about an individual’s requirement to produce identification during a traffic stop or at a checkpoint. This has been a growing trend throughout the Southeast and was the subject of a presentation at a conference I recently attended. The presentation was created by the Florida TSRP and uses Florida law, but I still think it is very relevant to what we discussed. The relevant Alabama law is as follows:
ALA Code 15-5-30: A sheriff or other officer acting as sheriff, his deputy or any constable, acting within their respective counties, any marshal, deputy marshal or policeman of any incorporated city or town within the limits of the county or any highway patrolman or state trooper may stop any person abroad in a public place whom he reasonably suspects is committing, has committed or is about to commit a felony or other public offense and may demand of him his name, address and an explanation of his actions.
ALA Code 32-5A-4: No person shall willfully fail or refuse to comply with any lawful order or direction of any police officer or fireman invested by law with authority to direct, control or regulate traffic.
ALA Code 32-6-9: (a) Every licensee shall have his or her license in his or her immediate possession at all times when driving a motor vehicle and shall display the same, upon demand of a judge of any court, a peace officer, or a state trooper. However, no person charged with violating this section shall be convicted if he or she produces in court or the office of the arresting officer a driver’s license theretofore issued to him or her and valid at the time of his or her arrest.
(b) For every person found in violation of this section or Section 32-6-1, a reasonable effort shall be made as soon as possible, but not later than within 48 hours, to determine the citizenship of the person and if an alien, whether the alien is lawfully present in the United States by verification with the federal government pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1373(c). An officer shall not attempt to independently make a final determination of whether an alien is lawfully present in the United States.
Sly v. State, 387 So.2d 913 (Ala. Crim. App. 1980)
A state trooper observed that a headlight on defendant’s automobile was defective. He pursued defendant for approximately one quarter of a mile with the blue light on his patrol car on before defendant stopped. The defendant refused to produce his driver’s license during the stop. The trooper stated that after defendant was arrested and on the way to the county jail, defendant stated that he did not stop because he thought that the trooper was a city police officer and that defendant had heard rumors that the city police were harassing the public. Defendant was charged and convicted of willfully failing or refusing to comply with a lawful order or direction of an officer invested by law with authority to direct, control, or regulate traffic. The prosecution was based on the failure of defendant to show the trooper his driver’s license. Defendant was convicted and the court affirmed. The court held that the trooper’s “request” to see defendant’s driver’s license constituted a lawful order and that observing a violation of the state traffic and vehicle safety regulations, the trooper had a statutory right to request and inspect defendant’s operating license. Further, defendant had a statutory duty to display the same.