After representing several bikers picked up by local police for violations of state law, I was asked could they have gotten tickets (and potentially points on their Division of Motor Vehicles record) if they did not have their drivers license on their person. One irate cyclist noted that the foreign riders, who have no U.S drivers license, could not get points, nor could the young bike riders who did not yet have their permits. It did not seem fair that drivers license carrying American citizens could be penalized this way. Plus, it seemed unjust that a cyclist could lose his/her driving privileges for an infraction committed while biking, but a car driver cannot lose his/her bicycling privileges if they get too many speeding, reckless driving or DUI convictions !
Having prosecuted many ticketed motorists, I understand that from the police officers’ point of view, once a violation of the law has occurred, or the officer has a reasonable suspicion that there has been a violation, they can asks for identification. Some states require more than your name and address, and several states mandate government issued form of identification, much as you would use to fly. And what if you do not have such government-issued identification on your person when stopped on your bicycle for blowing through a stop sign or making an illegal and unsafe turn ? The trooper or sheriff can take you into custody ! That would really ruin your ride.
As suggested in prior posts, always carry an emergency first aid kit, money, cell phone, and a form of official identification. I have an expired drivers license in my little bag, as I do not want to lose my current operators permit, but I want something official, with the same number on it so that an investigating officer, could type my information into the computer, if necessary. Because state laws vary, it is probably a good idea to carry a form of official identification so as to avoid misunderstandings and compounding a ticket with incarceration. Bikers use the public roads. Those who use the public roads, whether trucks, mopeds, busses, motorcycles or bicycles, are subject to the traffic laws, just like cars. If you violate the law, you can be ticketed, questioned, fined, given points and even lose your driving privileges. So the smart move is to carry appropriate ID on you when riding for fun, training, touring and commuting. Your identification can be an asset if there is an accident, an infraction and if it is required to make a purchase.