How police identify a driver who doesn't have their licence on them

How to identify the driver

In 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. Who is the driver?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More Behind the Wheel articles

About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

To comment, please email

To learn more, visit DriveSmartBC

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories