As reported Tuesday (October 9) afternoon by the Ministry of Public Works and Transportation (MOPT), the Constitutional Court or Sala IV confirmed that all persons who in vehicles must identify themselves if asked by police.

Constitutional Court confirms that people traveling in vehicles, including non drivers, must identify themselves is requested by police

The Sala IV resolution 2018-016698 delivered on Friday, October 5, results from an appeal filed by a citizen, who on August 29, while riding in a vehicle where she was not the driver, was asked by a Transito (traffic) official to identify herself. She refused.

The driver had been stopped, in Alajuela, for the illegal transport of persons. The MOPT report does not indicate if the driver was an Uber or “pirata” (gypsy cab).

Later, explained Alberto Barquero, Deputy Director of the Policia de Transito, the lady filed a writ of habeas corpus with the Constitutional Court.

The Sala IV declared the filing without merit. The woman never proved that she had been deprived of her freedom in any way and, to the contrary, based on the video evidence she submitted, the treatment of the officers was correct, respectful and attached to legality: the officers had simply asked she identify herself and she was free to go.

“For the Traffic Police, the resolution of the Constitutional Court is of great value, because although the Habeas Corpus Appeal intended to attribute some wrongdoing on the part of the police, it rather confirms that every citizen traveling in a motor vehicle has the duty and obligation to identify themselves when a police authority, as are the officers of the Traffic Police, as requested,” said Barquero.

Source (in Spanish): MOPT website

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What does this all mean? What happens if a person refuses to identify themselves? As far as we can tell, nothing really. The police have the right to ask and in the words of Barquero, the citizen “has the duty and obligation”, but the Constitutional Court resolution does not stipulate sanctions for refusal.

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