How to Identify the Driver

Ticket WriterIn the majority of traffic stops the officer pulls the driver over, receives a valid driver's licence with photo, completes the stop and carries on. The challenge begins when the driver fails to produce their licence or the officer is investigating a driving complaint. How do they identify the driver?

The Motor Vehicle Act gives the police tools to investigate and gather information on the identity of the driver.

Indentify the Driver

When asked to by police, the driver of a motor vehicle must correctly state their name and address as well as the name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle. This applies even if the driver does produce their licence.

Failing to comply carries a ticketed amount of $144 and 3 penalty points.

Passengers Must Help

If you are the passenger in a vehicle that is involved in the commission of a driving offence or collision and are informed of this by police, you must give all information you are able to relating to the identification of the driver at the relevant time or during the relevant period.

It is a separate offence to give false information in these circumstances.

The ticketed amount is not as significant in this situation, being $109, and there are no penalty points involved.

Duty of the Vehicle Owner

When the registered owner is advised of an incident and the identity of the driver at the relevant time and place is demanded, the owner must also do all in their power to identify the driver to the investigator. This holds true even when the driver is the registered owner.

The officer now has the driver to interview.

Similar to the other examples, failure to do this or giving false information is an offence. The penalty is the same as for the passenger mentioned previously.

Criminal Code

Depending on the circumstances involved, the officer also has the option of applying the provisions of the Criminal Code relating to obstructing them in their duty when the information is not provided or is false. The outcome of this is much more serious than a traffic ticket and the penalty is determined by the courts.

Taking a Photograph

Police may take a picture of the driver as part of their notes. This is permitted as long as the photo is only used as part of the investigation of this incident.

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So drivers must be very careful with their driving attitude. :)

So here there is no opportunity for the driver's lawyer to advise the driver on what legal options the driver has. The police officer is judge and investigator at the same time. What a way to save time, money and to ruin the possibilities of the driver to defend him/herself.

Is this piece of legislation in disagreement with the rights of citizens?

If the driver is arrested for obstruction, their Charter rights apply immediately and they may choose to remain silent until after consulting with legal counsel.

A traffic stop is a detention but a reasonable infringement on the driver's rights according to the courts. If the outcome of the encounter is a brief Q&A at the roadside followed by the issuance of a traffic ticket and release, right to legal counsel doesn't apply.

In both cases, the courts have final say so the officer is not the judge.

After stopping thousands of vehicles and talking to thousands of drivers, the reactions of a driver who has forgotten their driver's license, verse one who provides a false name is usually pretty obvious.  Many times the name used will be a close relative, like a sibling, that they will know details such a bithdate, home address.

The driver who forgot, will present like: "Gee Whiz (or similar comment), wouldn't you know it, the time I get stopped is the time I forget my wallet at home, can you follow me home ? (etc)"

The driver playing a game,,, no emotion, no searching for their wallet, just sits there "I forgot my license".  

Now not every non-emotional driver is lying but it's a clue.

Not every lier has had the time to do the math... "Ok, you say your name is ......, how old are you ?,,,, What's you date of birth ?" (giving them no time to do the math)  You'd be surprised how many times a person hasn't done the math ahead of time.  Establishing the claimed age, and then asking the date of birth.  So many times they don't add up.

If there's a passenger, split them up right away.  (Passenger) "I don't know the driver's name, I was hitchiking, they just picked me up."  (Driver, when asked who the passenger is) "He's my friend."

The old saying: "Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive" 

I liked the trick some police have tried when given a fake name....  "Ok Mr Jones, you are under arrest, you are wanted for murder in Ontario...."  (Driver) "No wait !  I lied my name isn't Jones, it's......."