Denise asked: Is identification required on a person when bicycling?


There is no statute that requires possession of identification while riding a bicycle, or when doing other normal activities other that do not require a drivers’ license, such as walking.  Of course, when driving a motor vehicle or moped, possession of a valid drivers’ license is required.

s. 322.03 – Drivers Must be Licensed; Penalties

(1) Except as otherwise authorized in this chapter, a person may not drive any motor vehicle …. unless such person has a valid driver’s license ….

A bicycle is not a motor vehicle, and a driver’s license is not required.

Florida has a “Stop and Frisk” law that allows a police officer to stop someone under certain circumstances.

s. 901.151 – Stop and Frisk Law
(1) This section may be known and cited as the “Florida Stop and Frisk Law.”
(2) Whenever any law enforcement officer of this state encounters any person under circumstances which reasonably indicate that such person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a violation of the criminal laws of this state or the criminal ordinances of any municipality or county, the officer may temporarily detain such person for the purpose of ascertaining the identity of the person temporarily detained and the circumstances surrounding the person’s presence abroad which led the officer to believe that the person had committed, was committing, or was about to commit a criminal offense.
(3) No person shall be temporarily detained under the provisions of subsection (2) longer than is reasonably necessary to effect the purposes of that subsection. Such temporary detention shall not extend beyond the place where it was first effected or the immediate vicinity thereof.
(4) If at any time after the onset of the temporary detention authorized by subsection (2), probable cause for arrest of person shall appear, the person shall be arrested. If, after an inquiry into the circumstances which prompted the temporary detention, no probable cause for the arrest of the person shall appear, the person shall be released.
(5) Whenever any law enforcement officer authorized to detain temporarily any person under the provisions of subsection (2) has probable cause to believe that any person whom the officer has temporarily detained, or is about to detain temporarily, is armed with a dangerous weapon and therefore offers a threat to the safety of the officer or any other person, the officer may search such person so temporarily detained only to the extent necessary to disclose, and for the purpose of disclosing, the presence of such weapon. If such a search discloses such a weapon or any evidence of a criminal offense it may be seized.
(6) No evidence seized by a law enforcement officer in any search under this section shall be admissible against any person in any court of this state or political subdivision thereof unless the search which disclosed its existence was authorized by and conducted in compliance with the provisions of subsections (2)-(5).

This law is not necessarily applicable to traffic offenses.  Note that the statute applies to reasonable suspicion of possible criminal offenses.  Just walking down the street or riding a bicycle cannot in any way be construed as a possible criminal offense.  Additionally, most traffic violations are civil in nature and not criminal offenses.

Note that the statute does not specifically require identification, just that the person may be detained until the person’s identity is determined.  Obviously, if the person is carrying identification, that would be facilitated.  Possession of identification while cycling, whether it is a driver’s license or other, is highly recommended.  If, for some other reason than simply riding the bicycle, you may be required to verify your identity.  If you are involved in an incident such as a crash or a citation, having your identification on your person will facilitate that.

But I repeat, a driver’s license or other identification is not required to ride a bicycle.

6 Comments on “Identification

  1. I was pulled over in downtown Jacksonville and was told by the officer that I could be given a ticket for not having my drivers’ license. The answer to the above question states, “I am not aware of any statute that requires possession of identification.”

    I am not aware of a lot of things but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Is there anybody out there who knows for certain whether or not there is requirement?

  2. I know a drivers’ license is not required to operate a bicycle. A bicycle is not a motor vehicle.

    FS 322.03 – Drivers Must be Licensed; Penalties

    (1) Except as otherwise authorized in this chapter, a person may not drive any motor vehicle …. unless such person has a valid driver’s license ….

    The question was not about drivers’ licenses, but identification.

    I suggest calling the police department and asking if a cyclist must have a drivers’ license, and if so the statute that requires it

    Please let us know what they say.

  3. Dave,

    Thanks for that. I realized I should have included that in the original post, and have amended it accordingly.

  4. Geo is correct there is no need to have a drivers license for riding a BICYCLE.
    Any other statutes dealing with just plain identification in terms of Floridian law is unknown to myself and is beyond the scope of this website.

    You were pulled over? On a bicycle? On a moped? On a scooter? In your car?
    Did he say or mean some form of general identification?
    Just curious.

  5. This situation was directly addressed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Anderson v. California, about 2004 or so. Anderson was riding his bicycle the wrong way in the street, was stopped by the police, and asked to produce identification. He truthfully replied he had none, and truthfully gave his name and home address. Under an existing ordinance (I forget if it was local or state, sorry), the police decided to take Anderson into custodial detention (i.e pre-arrest). As per appropriate police procedure, he was searched for weapons and contraband and a baggie of meth was found in his sock. The question was: was the custodial detention OK under the US and Cal. constitutions? (If it wasn’t, the baggie was inadmissable evidence, hence the big row.)

    The Supremes decided the law authorizing the decision to take Anderson into custodial detention to verify his identity only on the basis of a traffic violation was OK, even though he was not operating a motor vehicle and hence no driver’s license was required. While a driver’s licence was explictly not required, it is constitutional for a government to have a law that requires all vehicular users to posess some form of “reliable, verifyable ID.”

    Lower courts have decided that this is not the case for mere pedestrians. A lower court, in a case where a car driver held his driver’s license up to the car window, but would not roll down the window, said that a law that required the law enforcement officer be allowed to physically inspect the ID was OK.

    NOTE! These were not decisions about the actions of police officers. They were decisions about laws that permitted certain actions by police. In every case, the officer was following a law or adopted administrative rule, not improvising.

    -Bruce Epperson

  6. Apparently there is no existing statute in Florida such as that in CA that allows detention for violation of a traffic offense. It may be that there is a local ordinance to that effect, but I am not aware of it.

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