A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

On a bike, ID is wise but not required

Written October 20th, 2019 by Hasso Hering

You don’t need a license to ride this vintage Schwinn Continental or any other bicycle in Oregon.

Prompted by the Oct. 13 arrest of a bicyclist in Corvallis, an Albany reader asked about the law on carrying a license or some other legal ID when riding a bike. Let’s dive into the Oregon Revised Statutes, where the answer is sure to be found.

The Corvallis incident started when, according to published reports, a state trooper on the university police squad was on bike patrol that Sunday afternoon. He stopped a 21-year-old student for riding her bike on the wrong side of a residential street. She reportedly refused the officer’s request for identification. As camera phones recorded the action, she ended up on the ground, was forcibly turned over and had her wrists cuffed behind her back, then was booked at the Benton County Jail and released.

The incident raises many questions, but what about ID, by which we usually mean driving licenses? Here’s the law on that.

ORS 807.020 says in section 14 that “a person may operate a bicycle that is not an electric assisted bicycle without any grant of driving privileges.” (Sections 15 and 16 apply the same exemption to operators of electric assisted bikes and motor assisted scooters if they’re 16 or older.)

ORS 807.570 says failure to carry or present a license is a Class D misdemeanor, but it says this does not apply to anyone specifically exempted by 807.020, meaning bike riders don’t have to carry or present a license.

Regardless of the law, serious cyclists usually carry an ID in case something happens and the ambulance crew finds them unconscious. But it’s not required.

What about being stopped and asked for ID even though you don’t have to carry any? In 2003, the Legal Services staff of the Associated Students at the University of Oregon gave students this advice: “An officer who suspects you of a noncriminal violation can stop and detain you and ask for name and ID. You may legally refuse to give your name and, in that case, you should expect to be detained as long as necessary to establish your identity. Again, your refusal to give your name or ID isn’t a separate offense and you can’t be legally arrested or jailed for that refusal.”

Here’s a question to which I could not find an answer: Suppose a cop stops a cyclist without legal ID for a minor violation. The cyclist readily gives his name but can’t prove it. How does the officer confirm what to write on the ticket? Would the cyclist be “detained” in that case, and for how long? No matter how long they stand on the side of the road, no legal ID is going to appear.

Maybe somebody who knows will supply an answer as the Corvallis case unfolds. (hh)

Thanks to a commenter below pointing out my typo, “diving” license has been corrected in this edited version of the story.

14 responses to “On a bike, ID is wise but not required”

  1. John says:

    I have ridden my bicycle a great deal in Corvallis for over 30 years. I often don’t carry my driver’s license, for no particular reason. The police have stopped me maybe 3 times, I don’t remember exactly. The last time, about a year ago, I presented my library card as ID. The officer accepted it. The other, earlier times I was stopped, I may have had my driver’s license with me, I don’t remember.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Reasonable people know it is better to carry and provide an ID (even a “diving” license) than refuse and risk the lawful consequences.

    Verbally providing just a name doesn’t prove anything. Expect a trip to jail until proof is established.

    The key word here is “reasonable” behavior, by the cop and the bike rider.

  3. don says:

    The one thing that the cameras missed was did the cyclist say something to the officer that no one but the two of them heard?

  4. BigGuyonBike says:

    Thank you for following up on this. I am very interested. Keep us posted.

  5. Jim Engel says:

    She’s just playing the race card! Corvallis is notorious for citing bicycle violators. So my concern is: Do we bother them & just let them ride hither & yawn??!! Perhaps banning all cars from the interior of campus might make this easier to deal with w/o conflicts between cars vs cyclists.

    • hj.anony1 says:

      Yeah! Argumentative little twit!

      Wrong call on one’s choose your own adventure.

      Great copper cam footage released! Way to go
      Find it if you want to see it….it is there!!!!
      I LOVE live PD!!!

      They all did a good job! LOL…..

    • thomas cordier says:

      I applaud the officer for stopping the cyclist. Too bad the woman could not be reasonable with request for identity—looking for an incident to cry brutality using race as bait.

  6. Craigz says:

    There are numerous court cases regarding giving identification to an officer. If you are legally stopped even as a pedestrian and depending on the circumstances you must identify yourself to Law Enforcement. Then things can escalate, such as a charge for Interfering with Lawful Orders, disorderly conduct…ultimately perhaps resisting arrest. There is also contempt of cop and they can use their pencil to gain compliance (write more citations). You are best to give ID, be calm and if you disagree with the Officer’s decision… fight it out in court not in the street. You will lose.

  7. J. Jacobson says:

    As an American you can choose to carry ID or not. Your freedom to choose in no way exempts you from any and all statutes and is no guarantee you’ll avoid the backfire resulting from your choice.
    It’s quite simple.

  8. Anonymous says:

    He clearly states in the video He wanted to ID her either by providing identification or name and date of birth.

    The police officer was more than fair. And very respectful and patient.

    Good job Oregon state police.

  9. Lundy says:

    I was stopped by CPD on my bicycle a few years ago for failure to stop at a stop sign. When asked for ID, I rolled my eyes and asked what ID was required to operate a bicycle. Receiving no real answer, I think I handed over my work ID card just to expedite matters and get on my way. It worked. Arguing the point at that moment made about as much as sense, to quote former Judge Rick McCormick, “as having an elephant shipped here from Africa to determine the length of its trunk.”

  10. CherylP says:

    Once while walking my dog late at night, carrying nothing but a car antenna, plastic bag and house key, I was stopped by police. Some noisy neighbor reported seeing a suspicious young man carrying a crowbar. I was asked for ID, I didn’t have any. I was asked for my name and address, I gave it. I was complimented on my dog, poop bag and protection device, but it was suggested that for my own safety, not to walk after 11pm. I was then wished a good evening and I continued my walk.

    Moral of the story…you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

  11. Terry Seeman says:

    I fully believe that the police did the right thing. Lawlesness cannot be the new norm. This generation being indoctrinated through colleges is disgusting and wrong. If these young people cannot follow the rules, then we have failed. If she would have just cooperated, then she would have just received a warning. I believe that she took this to the next level while the audience was embolding her. I believe this officer was patient and professional at all times. How dare these adults acting no different then those who promote this ideology……

  12. Long time rider says:

    I carry an expired DL (still good as ID and all cops can check my present status by radio), last year’s health plan card (same info as new) with my PREFERRED hospital written on it, a credit card with a $1000 limit,cand $20in cash. That way I have protection but limit risk of theft.


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