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Q: Giving your SSN to the police officer. ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Giving your SSN to the police officer.
Category: Reference, Education and News > General Reference
Asked by: tatsuro-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 18 Sep 2004 01:41 PDT
Expires: 18 Oct 2004 01:41 PDT
Question ID: 402826
When the police officer ask for my social security number when writing
an infraction ticket, am I required to give it to him/her or not?
Subject: Re: Giving your SSN to the police officer.
Answered By: digsalot-ga on 18 Sep 2004 10:31 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello there

From the nature of your question, we must presume you are asking about
a driving infraction.  However, the answer will also cover other
infractions where your driver's license is your form of
identification. - - or even if not.

Your question also does not provide a locality where this takes place.
 So the answer must be provided based on whether the state where the
infraction took place has such a requirement.  If they do, you will
find it to be perfectly legal.

Depending on where you are, a police officer may routinely ask for a
SS number and you are required to give it.

No single Federal law regulates the overall use of SS numbers.  There
is a lot of leeway in how state and local government agencies, and
even private business may make use of a SSN.

Since the site I am sending you to is a PDF document, it is impossible
to recreate it here.

But some pertinent features include:

American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators say that not
allowing law enforcement and driver licensing agencies to request SS
numbers would - "make it difficult for states to detect noncommercial
drivers who were trying to conceal driving infractions under other
state licenses."

"The Social Security Act authroizes states to use SSNs to administer
any tax, general public assistance, [drivers license,] ... and
[enforcing complience] with regulations governing the programs." - -
brackets mine]

"...courts and law enforcement agencies may choose to request driver
records by SSN..."

So as you can see, there are valid reasons for asking for your number.
 And depending on the laws of the state where the infraction takes
place, law enforcement may legally ask - and expect to be provided -
your SSN.

A single answer cannot cover all states as there is a great deal of
variation between them.

You may want to read the whole document to clarify things.

The above is from - A
website of the United States General Accounting Office - Acrobat
reader needed

Perhaps if you want to let us know in which state this took place, we
can narrow things down a bit.

Search - Google
Terms - social security number disclosure law

If I may clarify anything, please ask.


Request for Answer Clarification by tatsuro-ga on 18 Sep 2004 12:18 PDT
Could you research more of this related topic in Washington state please?

Clarification of Answer by digsalot-ga on 18 Sep 2004 14:14 PDT
If your license is issued by Washington State, then your SSN is
already a part of your DMV record. - - "Section 1331.6(a) requires
that an applicant submit the Social Security Number (SSN) with an
application for a license or ID card, and that the state verify the
validity of the SSN electronically with the Social Security

Also - "Washington State law provides for the issuance of driver's
licenses clearly marked "not valid for identification purposes" where
an applicant is unable to provide sufficient proof of identity."  I
have no way of knowing if your license is so marked or not.

- A letter from State of Washington Department of Licensing to
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

I have sent a request to the State of Washington Department of
Licensing for additional information.

It may take a day or two for them to respond.  If they do not, I will
try another direction.


Clarification of Answer by digsalot-ga on 19 Sep 2004 04:50 PDT
I had completely forgotten that this is the weekend.  So maybe I
should give them till Tuesday to respond.


Clarification of Answer by digsalot-ga on 21 Sep 2004 05:21 PDT
Even without hearing from Washington State, further research has
determined that this question is a spaghetti tangle between what law
requires and the local interpretations of it.  Some police agencies
feel they have the right, some don't.

A actually agree with with the comment made by daniel2d-ga.  But too
often such interpretations and realities are in different lanes.
(though I cannot imagine too many people who 'don't' have their own
SSN memorized)

The problem is that while the law makes such statements as:

"You are not necessarily required to give your SSN to government
agencies asking for it. These agencies must provide you with a Privacy
Act of 1974 Disclosure Notice, which explains which law allows them to
ask, whether you are required to answer and what penalties you face if
you refuse to provide the number.

"Any Federal, State or local government agency which requests an
individual to disclose his social security account number shall inform
that individual whether that disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, by
what statutory or other authority such number is solicited, and what
uses will be made of it."
About 90% of the way down the page  - section 7 (b)"

In spite of such law and perhaps because of ambiguity, there are many
state and local law enforcement agencies that do act and believe they
have the authority to collect such info.

I have found that some jurisdictions have changed their own rules
about police asking for SSNs - For example, this from Eugene, Oregon
requires the police to disclose that the giving of such a number is
not required and a second form of ID is allowed.  By even making such
a change it also discloses that officers in that department had been
demanding SSNs in the past, and seemingly with department approval.

There are several kinds of governmental organizations that usually
have authority to request your number, but they are all required to
provide the Privacy Act Statement.

"One weakness of the Privacy Act is that it doesn't carry any penalties." - from  -
Social Security Number FAQ - History and Signifance

So what it boils down to is that even a formal statement from
Washington State DMV would not be definitive answer. Because, once
again, there are many state and local law enforcement agencies that do
act and believe they have the authority to collect such info.  What
may well be the policy of one policing agency in Washington may well
not be the policy of another.  The Eugene, Oregon example illustrates
the fact that such decisions are made at extremly local levels and not
on state wide or a national basis.

That is about as detailed as I can make it.  To narrow it down any
further would takes the skills of an attorney who is familiar with the
way the law is interpreted in your immediate area.  That may be your
next best step.

tatsuro-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
You did an impressive research. I like the way you handled such
information about this topic. Thanks a bunch!

Subject: Re: Giving your SSN to the police officer.
From: daniel2d-ga on 21 Sep 2004 00:36 PDT
I would opine that you are not required to provide your social
security number to  a police officer.  As a practical matter, how many
people have that number memorized?  Even if the SSN is your driver's
license number, again, how many people would have that memorized?  In
most instances you will have your driver's license and the officer
gets all the information they need from that.  He may ask you to
verify your name, address and date of birth and any data on the
license.  They may ask for the information as a means of identifying
you but you aren't required to give it in the situation you describe. 
If you don't have your license with you police will ask for another
form of picture ID and you are required to answer non-incriminating
questions like name, adddress, phone number and DOB.

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