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Your rights when approached by Police

Do I have to give police my name and address?

Not normally.

Police have a right to ask for your identity (ie. your name and address) but in most situations you do not have to give it. There are some situations, however, where you  must provide your identity.

These situations include:

  • when you are driving a car, and you

(i) are suspect of a traffic offence (eg speeding); or
(ii) refuse a breath test;

  • when you own or were driving a car and police ‘reasonably suspect’ that it was used in a crime;
  • when you are under 18 and police ‘reasonably suspect’ you of carrying or consuming alcohol in a public place;
  • when the police ‘reasonably believe’ that you witnessed a serious crime;
  • when you have unpaid fines and police are trying to serve a ‘fine default  warrant’; and
  • after you are arrested.

Do I have to answer questions when approached by police?

Not normally.

In most situations, you do not have to answer questions by police. There are some laws, however, that require you to answer certain questions and/or do certain things in specific situations.

For example, under the   Traffic Act you must give your name and address to police when driving a car (see above). If requested, you must also provide your drivers licence and give the names and addresses of any other people who may be suspected of committing an offence under the Traffic Act. If required, you must also give information about any other motor vehicles suspected of being involved in a traffic offence.

There are similar rules in many other laws, including the National Parks and Wildlife Act (you must answer certain questions by park officers/rangers), the Local Government Act (you must answer questions by Council officers or police if you are suspected of breaching Council by-laws and regulations), the Meat Industry Act (you must answer questions by meat inspectors), and for certain ‘terrorism related’ offences (you must cooperate fully with police in their investigations).

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