Bill Would Require You to Identify Yourself At All Times

any 'peace officer' can demand i.d. any time, doesn't say exactly who qualifies as a 'peace officer.'

1200 WOAI | April 16, 2009
By Jim Forsyth

Papers please!!

The Texas Senate has approved a bizarre measure which would require citizens to show some sort of identification to any police officer who demands it, at any time, for any reason, 1200 WOAI news reports.

Currently, it is illegal for a person to give a false name to police, but there is no law rewiring a person to provide i.d. at an officer's whim.  And State Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) doesn't like the sound of this bill.

"We still live in a free society," he said.  "I don't want police officers to be able to pull you over and ask that you identify yourself."

The bill would also require individuals to provide their date of birth and 'residence address' to police.

Supporters of the bill, like State Sen. Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) says there are safeguards.

"A police officer would not have the discretion just to come over and ask for i.d. on just anybody," he said.

Hinojosa said the officer would have to have a 'good reason' to demand identification.

The bill is sponsored by State Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), who is a strong supporter of individual rights.

"It is illegal for them to falsely identify themselves, but it is not illegal for them not to tell you who they are," Patrick said.  "In this era of national security issues, if we have a police officer detaining someone at a high profile target, it is in the best interests of the safety of that officer and this community to be able to quickly determine who that person is."

Other lawmakers say if a person is bent on committing a crime, the individual is not likely to be deterred by the possibility of a misdemeanor charge of failure to identify.

Patrick’s' bill does not specify exactly who a 'peace officer' who is authorized to demand papers is.  It doesn't say whether it would be limited to TCLOSE certified police officers, or would apply to constables, security guards, or neighborhood watch members.  It also doesn't specify what passes for 'i.d' and wither it would have to be a photo i.d.

The bill also does not spell out any safeguards or recource for citizens who are asked at random to identify themselves to police.