Tech Tips

Bicycle driving license - do you have to carry ID?

Cyclist pulled over and ticketed by police
No cyclist is above the law.
This article was originally published by Seth Davidson Bike Injury Lawyer -
Torrance, California, USA

Bicycle driving license???

You get pulled over for allegedly running a stop sign on your bicycle. The cop asks for your driver's license or other identification. Do you have to provide it?

Before answering this question, let’s start with common sense, and common sense says this: It’s always a good idea to have a driver's license or state-issued ID when you cycle. Motorists are known for hitting bikes and leaving the cyclist unconscious or worse. Identification in these cases is generally a good thing.




Also, when a cop asks you for identification and you refuse or don’t have any, you run the risk of having your ride interrupted and your bike impounded. You may be vindicated many hours or days or weeks or months later, but standing on your rights when challenged always comes at a cost, one that at a minimum will cost you that KOM attempt up Mandeville.

But back to the question: Do you have to provide it?

California law requires users of motor vehicles to provide their license for examination upon demand of a peace officer enforcing the provisions of the California vehicle code. That’s section 12951(b), by the way. However, since a bicyclist is not a driver of a motor vehicle, you may think that you get a pass.

Cycling to the rules of the road
Rules of the road apply to cyclists, too. photo: Brandon Wong

You’d be wrong.

California law explicitly makes the vehicle code applicable to bicyclists. Section 21200(a) says that every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application. In other words, if the driver of a motor vehicle has to show his license or ID to a cop who’s enforcing the vehicle code, so do you.



What this means is that even though you’re not technically required to have something called a bicycle driving license, if you ever get pulled over for breaking the law and can’t produce satisfactory ID to the peace officer, you can be arrested and your bike impounded, which is an end-run around “no bike driving license required” because it does in effect require you to have a license in the form of acceptable identification.

So ride with your driver's license if you have one. That’s my advice.



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