Weekly Tip June 22, 2007-"License and Registration"

Hello everyone. One of the first things to occur during an unwanted encounter with the police will be the police officer's demand for your license and registration. The officer asks for both at the same time to try to confuse you. This technique is described in DWI Detection and Field Sobriety manuals like this:


"A basic purpose of the face-to-face observation and interview of the driver is to identify and gather evidence of alcohol and/or drug influence. This is the purpose of each task in each phase of DWI detection" HS 178 R1/02, DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Student Manual.

What this means is that every question and requested task is being used to gather evidence against you.

Further along in the same page of the manual the "license and registration" demand is described like this:

"Questioning Techniques

The questions you ask and the way in which you ask them can constitute simple divided attention tests. Three techniques are particularly pertinent:

1. Asking for two things simultaneously
2. Asking interrupting and distracting questions
3. Asking unusual questions

An example of the first technique, asking for two things simultaneously, is requesting the drivers license and vehicle registration. Possible evidence of impairment may come to light as the driver responds to this dual request."

HS R1/02, DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Student Manual.

The manual then goes on to suggest a number of stock observations the officer could make about difficulties you have retrieving these two documents under pressure.


It is not a bad idea to prepare for this event. Have your license and registration in an easy place to find and an easy place to quickly and effortlessly produce upon demand. Don't put your license in a difficult spot to pull it out quickly when you need to. Practice taking your license out of your wallet in the safety of your home. CONSIDER GETTING A REGISTRATION HOLDER TO KEEP YOUR VEHICLE REGISTRATION IN. If you do not have one send me an email with your mailing address and I will send you a registration holder for every one of your vehicles free of charge. Then practice producing your license and registration fairly frequently. It will make it easier to do if you ever have to produce them under a pressurized roadside situation.

Have a safe weekend,

Mark Stevens


  1. do you have to give them your license and registration just because they ask for it? what if youre not doing anything wrong and they just sdtop you any ways.

  2. Yes. You have to give them your license and registration when they demand it, even when you have done nothing wrong. As you will see from last week's Tip of the Week, it is a good idea to have them ready and practice taking them out before the pressure of a stop is on!
    Thanks for writing.