I thought I could smell something burning while driving so I pulled over and popped the hood of my car. I was checking my engine when a police officer pulled up. He had me drive over to a parking lot. When we were there I popped my hood and got out to continue checking and he asked for my license. Is that legal? It happened in Illinois.

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    Legal for him to ask, or required for you to show it to him? Probably anyone can ask for ID in many situations (and you can usually say no).
    – Brandin
    Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 10:03
  • He told me to give him it and ran it as well
    – Aaron Duff
    Commented Nov 10, 2019 at 10:07
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    I suspect that the officer did not ask you for ID but rather for your driver's license. An ID proves who you are, and any of several documents (usually including a driver's license) will satisfy a request for ID. A driver's license proves that you have permission to drive a car, and generally speaking it is the only document that does so.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 8:21

2 Answers 2


In most states, if you had said "Am I being detained, or am I free to go?" and the answer is "you are free to go", then you do not have to provide ID. In Illinois it can become more complicated, the Criminal Code of 1961 does not impose a duty for a suspect to identify themselves and cannot be charged of obstructing a police officer for refusing to identify themselves or refusing to provide identification.

In Illinois it is actually legally allowed for police to "demand" an ID, but there is no requirement on your part to provide it, and technically a police officer is only allowed to "demand" it if they have reasonable suspicion that you are committing, have committed, or is about to commit a crime.

So really in Illinois an officer can only "demand" your ID if they have suspicion of a crime (past, current, or future) and you are not ever legally obligated to provide it, nor can you be charged for not providing it. If the officer said "can I see your ID"? and you provided it, then that is legal since you voluntarily responded to a request (not a demand).

  • A side comment, but under these laws, I'd definitely provide police with an ID - Similar to how it is a bad idea to talk to the police without a lawyer, you're basically saying "either find something to charge me with, or you don't get to see my ID" - it's a high stakes gamble when the police have wide discretion over if they should charge you with a crime.
    – lupe
    Commented Aug 29, 2022 at 10:36

It is not obvious from the description. 725 ILCS 5/107-14 is the relevant law. When legally stopped, the officer

may demand the name and address of the person and an explanation of his actions. Such detention and temporary questioning will be conducted in the vicinity of where the person was stopped.

This is stronger than "may request", and is more likely than not to be interpreted as obligatory. You note that the law provides an obligation to give information, not produce a document.

It is not clear that the stop is legal. The requirement is that

after having identified himself as a peace officer, may stop any person in a public place for a reasonable period of time when the officer reasonably infers from the circumstances that the person is committing, is about to commit or has committed an offense

This is the Terry stop rule on brief public detentions. On the face of it, this is not a traffic stop (you were already stopped: but you didn't say exactly where, which is an important detail). If you just stopped in the road to check your engine, that would be highly irregular and probably itself illegal, so demanding ID would probably be legal. This is a fact-intensive distinction, whether there was or was not a "reasonable suspicion". A vague "feeling that it just didn't seem right" is not reasonable. A lot of other articulable reasons are reasonable.

  • What about the fact that the officer observed the person driving?
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 8:17
  • Driving is not a crime, so where does the rasonable suspicion come from?
    – user6726
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 15:49
  • @user6726 It can come from observing a moving traffic violation, erratic driving, or having been seen departing the scene of a crime. Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 18:33
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    Sure but there is no suggestion that this is there case, in the OP.
    – user6726
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 18:35
  • @user6726 the car was perhaps stopped in an improper place (why else would the cop ask the driver to move it?). That might provide legal justification to demand ID or proof of license to drive.
    – phoog
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 19:17

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