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police id checkingIn Australia, it is essential to understand your legal rights and obligations when dealing with the police. One common question that arises is whether the police have the authority to request identification from individuals.


Police officers possess the power to ask for identification in certain circumstances. However, the specifics can vary between states and territories. In NSW, the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 governs police powers and outlines the circumstances in which they can request identification from individuals.


Under Section 11 of the Act, police officers in NSW can ask for your identification if they have reasonable grounds to suspect that you have committed or are about to commit an offence, or if they believe it is necessary to prevent a breach of the peace. Additionally, if you are driving a motor vehicle, you are required by law to produce your driver’s licence upon request.


Police may also request that you disclose your identity if they intend to issue a “move on direction.” Such a direction falls under Part 14 of the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act (LEPRA), which entails an order compelling an individual to leave a specific location.


Furthermore, there are various scenarios in which the police can ask for your name and address. These instances include:


  • When you are driving a car and the police have reason to suspect you of committing a traffic offence.
  • When you are driving a vehicle and are stopped for a breath test.
  • If the police suspect that an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) has been issued against you.
  • When there is suspicion that you have committed an offence on a train or railway property.
  • If you are under the age of 18 and there is suspicion that you are consuming alcohol in a public place.
  • When you are being arrested and are charged with a criminal offence.
  • If the police are attempting to serve a fine default warrant on you.

The request for identification must be accompanied by a reasonable suspicion or lawful justification. Random or arbitrary identification checks without reasonable grounds may be deemed unlawful. You will need to obtain legal advice from a criminal defence lawyer as to whether the request was unlawful.

Penalty for Not Giving Your ID to Police?

Failure to provide identification to the police when legally required can lead to penalties in NSW. The consequences for not complying with a lawful request for identification can vary depending on the circumstances and the specific offence involved.


If you are driving a motor vehicle and fail to produce a valid driver’s licence upon request, you can be penalised with fines and demerit points. The penalties can increase if you have committed previous offences related to driving without a licence.


In other situations where the police have reasonable grounds to suspect you may commit a crime and request identification, refusing to comply can result in arrest and potential charges for obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice is a serious offence that carries penalties, including fines and imprisonment.


In the event that you provide the police with false information, the maximum penalty is an $11,000 fine and/or a prison term of up to six months. This applies when the police serve you with a court attendance notice, also known as a charge, which necessitates your appearance in court to address the matter.


Alternatively, instead of issuing a court attendance notice, the police have the option to issue an on-the-spot fine or penalty notice of $1,000 for this offence. For corporations, the penalty notice amount is $5,000.

Going To Court?

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Your Rights With Police NSW

When interacting with the police in NSW, it is crucial to understand your legal rights to ensure fair treatment. Here are some key rights you should be aware of:


Right to Silence


You have the right to remain silent during police questioning. You are not obliged to answer any questions that may incriminate you, except in certain situations, such as providing your name and address during a lawful arrest or when driving a motor vehicle.


In a public setting, you possess the legal right to record the police. If you are pulled over by law enforcement, it is crucial to turn off your vehicle’s engine before utilising any devices, including mobile phones or cameras.


It is essential to note that the police do not have the authority to seize your recording device or delete any recorded footage. However, it is imperative that you refrain from obstructing their duties or intruding into their personal space with a camera, as engaging in such actions may result in criminal charges being filed against you.


Right to Legal Representation


If you are being questioned by the police, you have the right to request legal representation. It is advisable to consult with a lawyer before providing any statements to the police.


Search and Seizure


Police officers may conduct searches under specific circumstances, such as with a search warrant or if they have reasonable grounds to suspect you possess illegal substances or weapons. However, in the absence of a lawful search warrant or reasonable suspicion, you have the right to refuse a search.


Reasonable Use of Force


Police officers have the authority to use force when necessary to maintain public safety or apprehend a suspect. However, the use of force must be reasonable and proportionate to the circumstances.


It is worth noting that if you believe the police have acted unlawfully or violated your rights during an interaction, it is advisable to seek legal advice. Contact our AVO specialist lawyers in Sydney today.


Lyons Law Group has an outstanding record in representing individuals charged serious criminal offences in NSW. We will provide you with a free first consultation up to 15 minutes to provide you a case overview.


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