When was the last time you went anywhere without a commonly accepted form of identification on your person? On purpose?

It’s one of the things I see at court on a frequent basis, but never see in society at large: People without identification. Something comes up where they need ID, and they don’t have it.

I don’t mean they pat their pockets and look shocked, either. They didn’t forget it in their other pants. They never have it. It’s just how they live. If they lose it, or the cops confiscate it, or it gets stolen — which seems to happen a lot — they don’t hurry to get a new one. If they do have one, they didn’t bring it. Why not? “I dunno, just didn’t. Didn’t know I needed to.”

Or — this is one I really don’t understand — someone else is holding it for them. These are adults, mind you. We’re not swimming, we’re not hiking, we’re not dancing in a club in a tight little dress with no pockets. We’re hanging around a court hallway all day.

Or they left it in the car. On purpose. When was the last time you left your wallet in your car on purpose? At the beach, maybe? Not at court, where there are armed officers in the hallways and guarding the doors.

And they’re not lying about not having it. How do I know? Because this comes up not just when, for example, they need ID to drug test, but also when the ID is necessary to get them something they want, such as release of their kids. Anytime someone needs ID, it will be more likely than not that they don’t have it on them.

Poor people don’t drive, either. Or at least don’t have valid driver’s licenses. But that makes sense, because it’s pretty expensive to maintain a car, insurance, registration, and pay tickets promptly. It’s the tickets that really kill them. Still, even if your license is encumbered, it’s a valid ID. Or you can get a state ID that looks just like a driver’s license, except you can’t drive. And people do this. They often have one, somewhere. They just don’t have it on them.


Category: Elsewhere, Road

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25 Responses to Poor people don’t carry IDs.

  1. DaveinHackensack says:

    Poor people consume tobacco and alcohol, both of which require IDs to purchase. And poor people drive here too. You can get great used cars for reasonable prices and OK used cars dirt cheap. Registration is less than $100 per year.

    The people who don’t drive around here aren’t the poor, but illegal aliens. They are the only grown men riding boy’s Huffy dirt bikes to work in the middle of January.

  2. trumwill says:

    Clancy is actually inconsistent about having her ID on her. She makes sure to have it when she drives, but when I drive (and I’ve got the credit card) she doesn’t always worry about it. She changes pants a lot (off slacks, on scrubs, off scrubs, on jeans, etc). We got burned on this a couple of times in Cascadia, which has laws about sitting in an area that serves alcohol. Even if you don’t want to order alcohol, you still need ID before they will let you order.

    Not the same thing, I know, because if she knows she’s going to need it she will have it on her. For me, though, I assume I’m going to need it at all times. On a couple of occasions over the years I’ve been approached by cops asking to see my ID when I’ve been standing around smoking. So the idea of not taking my ID with me anywhere even if I don’t think I’ll need it – much less when I have reason to believe I might as in the cases you’re talking about – is something of an alien concept to me.

    I guess it’s just a different way of looking at things. The notion that ID is something you keep on you only for special occasions doesn’t strike them nearly as odd as it strikes me. What’s particularly odd about these folks in contrast to Clancy is that Clancy leaves hers behind because they don’t have a place for it. I assume these guys carry wallets? There’s a place in those for ID. More than one, usually. Or do they just keep cash in their pockets?

  3. trumwill says:

    You can get great used cars for reasonable prices and OK used cars dirt cheap. Registration is less than $100 per year.

    Yeah, but you still have insurance and tickets. And the effects that tickets have on insurance. And money for gas. Owning a car isn’t cheap. I’ve known more than a couple people that have struggled for car ownership.

    I never really dealt with it head on until I lived in Belle Rieve, the dive I lived in out in Deseret. It was the best parking situation ever. Of course, since I had a car and they didn’t, it was kind of uncomfortable. But the apartment was situated within town so that people could often walk relatively easily to the places they needed to go. It was within walking distance of downtown and across the street from the university.

  4. stone says:

    “The people who don’t drive around here aren’t the poor, but illegal aliens. They are the only grown men riding boy’s Huffy dirt bikes to work in the middle of January. ”

    Dude, at least those guys are working!

    Most of the people I’m talking about don’t have jobs. They’re on general relief, SSI, or GAIN/TANF (what we call AFDC in this state). Sometimes they have jobs places like Walmart, or as in-home care providers, and they take the bus or get rides.

    And they aren’t illegals. (I think illegals usually still drive, illegally.) I never knew until I worked here how many people in Southern California, the driving capital of the world, simply don’t or can’t drive. Like I said, it’s often the tickets that sink them. Hundreds of dollars a pop, and they can’t pay, and it gets big fines for being late that triple the cost. Then it goes to warrant.

    Or, they just don’t have the family support to teach them how to drive and get a driver’s license. That actually takes some commitment and resources from a family, to get a kid a driver’s license. Remember when your dad taught you to drive? Wasn’t it hell? Then they have to have a working car you can use, and pay to add you to insurance.

  5. stone says:

    Hey Dave, with the men on Huffy bikes, how do you know they’re actual illegals, rather than loser Hispanic citizens? The Hispanic population I’m used to seeing on bicycles is teenage boys and young men with gang affilitations. I think gangy types like bikes because it allows maneuverability for bad deeds. Also, there’s the issue with getting licenses taken away.

    Re tickets: I used to get one pretty regularly every couple years or so, until a few years ago when 1) I started living close to work (so less driving) and 2) started driving an old people car.

  6. David Alexander says:

    started driving an old people car

    Half Sigma is right, being a lawyer doesn’t pay. 🙂

  7. stone says:

    No, DA, it’s a nice comfy old people car.

  8. David Alexander says:

    No, DA, it’s a nice comfy old people car.

    You’d never last a day out here on Long Island then. You’d be expected to drive some variant of a imported luxury car. The high prole women have the option of going Cadillac, and the rest of us are expected to play the lease game every two to three years with a car lest we look like poor shameful proles.

  9. Peter says:

    In my area I see quite a few Hispanic men (mostly Mexican or Salvadoran) on bicycles. It’s a reasonable conjecture that many of them are illegal because they’re most often seen in areas which are known to have significant illegal populations. The Caribbean Hispanics (Puerto Rican and Dominican) don’t ride bicycles, they have cars.

  10. Peter says:

    You’d never last a day out here on Long Island then. You’d be expected to drive some variant of a imported luxury car.

    Also known as an “Alphanumeric.” Cheaper cars, whether foreign or domestic, have model names, while expensive imports have alphanumeric designations.

  11. David Alexander says:

    Registration is less than $100 per year.

    In contrast, here in (downstate) New York, I’m looking at reregistration fees of nearly $200 for a 10 year old Saturn and inspection fees of $37.50. The insurance is cheap at roughly $80 per month with only liability above the state’s minimum requirements, but I live in a middle class white neighbourhood. I’d imagine that for the poor, their insurance is considerably higher unless they can secure addresses outside of the home locales. Judging from the sentiments of a supervisor at work, I suspect a sizable number of the poor opt some variation of the no license, no insurance, & no registration state with some lacking one or all three of the needed credentials to drive a car.

    Or, they just don’t have the family support to teach them how to drive and get a driver’s license.

    One of the things that I realized once my dad died was that I lucked out by having a lot of support from him. He basically paid my car insurance and soaked up the cost of drivers education and licensing for my brother and I, along with car repairs and other miscellaneous things which allowed my brother and I to have cars. While my first car was paid for with money they have saved up for me, my brother’s car and my second car was paid for with the small inheritance we received from my aunt’s passing. How many poor families have access to something like that in the first place?

  12. David Alexander says:

    The notion that ID is something you keep on you only for special occasions doesn’t strike them nearly as odd as it strikes me.

    I’ll note that until recently, my mom never really had any ID. She hasn’t worked for a number of years, nor did she vote, and she only visited small doctors offices. Otherwise, she never really had a need to present ID, and thus never had to bother with it, especially after she became a citizen. It’s only recently with mandates for ID for reasons of security that she’s bothered to get a non-drivers ID card (with the enhanced credentials for travel to Canada) and carry it with her whenever she goes out.

  13. DaveinHackensack says:

    “Hey Dave, with the men on Huffy bikes, how do you know they’re actual illegals, rather than loser Hispanic citizens?”

    I wouldn’t apply the word “loser” to anyone who does honest work for a living, but, in answer to your question, Hispanic citizens don’t work the same jobs here (e.g. as busboys). This seems to be a common trend, that native born Latinos (even the children of immigrants) eschew the sort of work their parents did (that was a theme of this disturbing NY Times article about the children of Salvadoran immigrants in the D.C. area).

    Also, native-born Latinos almost invariably drive cars here (often, fancy ones). Relatively few illegals seem to drive here, probably because of our REAL ID laws.

    As for the other costs you mention, tickets are avoidable, and liability-only insurance can be cheap — I pay a few hundred dollars per year for mine, via GEICO.

  14. Peter says:

    The insurance is cheap at roughly $80 per month with only liability above the state’s minimum requirements, but I live in a middle class white neighbourhood. I’d imagine that for the poor, their insurance is considerably higher unless they can secure addresses outside of the home locales.

    You’ve probably heard the story about Ridgewood, how the residents campaigned tirelessly to have the neighborhood ZIP code changed from a Brooklyn number to a Queens number on account of car insurance. Insurers go by ZIP codes in determining neighborhood risk levels, and consider Brooklyn a far higher risk than Queens. Changing Ridegwood’s ZIP code meant that many residents saved hundreds of dollars a year.

    Mind you, this happened something like 30 years ago, so neighborhood redlining for car insurance rates is nothing new.

  15. DaveinHackensack says:

    Peter,

    I’m sure I’m not getting any discounts for my zip code, living in Hackensack. Some woman was just carjacked here a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, her assailants were at least as stupid as her, so they were promptly caught. She was stupid for agreeing to give a ride to a strange couple, who then duck taped her wrists and ankles and dumped her by the side of the river (they may have thought she’d roll into it and drown — it was on a slope). Then the other two idiots stayed in town, driving around in her car. They were arrested the next day.

  16. Transplanted Lawyer says:

    I’ll offer some experiences to help quantify the scale of the problem. When I sit as a traffic judge, I frequently hear cases involving violations of Vehicle Code § 12500 — operating a vehicle without a valid license to do so. On a typical day, I arraign about 40 people on citations that include such a violation (and usually some other charges too, like speeding, failing to yield to emergency vehicles, and the like). That is on an arraignment calendar of roughly 100 traffic tickets in any given day.

    Sheila’s thesis is that not having identification is indicative of membership in one of the lower socioeconomic strata. I would concur that there seems to be a correlation. The kinds of people who have checking accounts and enough savvy to simply pay their tickets before the arraignment date filter (by self-selection) out of the class of people I see in traffic court. So some of the people I see are self-supporting economically but don’t have it together enough to take care of the tickets by the arraignment date — but most of the people I see in traffic court seem likely to fit the economic profile of the unwealthy people Sheila encounters in court.

  17. trumwill says:

    Our insurance rates in Arapaho are less than half of what they were in Cascadia. It’s amazing how much zip code matters. And I think whatever was showing on our credit report (yeah, I’m still bitter about that) that gave the Cascadians the heebie-geebies must have disappeared. It also helps that our cars are old and getting older every year. The one thing that the poor have going for them when it comes to insurance is that they are less likely to be able to afford a car that’s expensive to insure and that they are likely to have cars old enough that it’s not worth insuring their own car to begin with.

    Anyhow, it adds up. Even a sticker price of $1000 is not an easy amount for some people to come by. Insurance can still run $80/mo even if you’re in a small and relatively harmless (to other drivers) car. Registration has never been that much of a problem in the states we’ve lived, but from what I hear it’s ridiculously expensive in Sheila’s neck of the woods.

    And, of course, if you’re unemployed and don’t have skills, the costs of not owning a car are not nearly as great. Either you don’t have a job to report to or you can be a clerk at the local convenience store just as easily as one that requires driving.

  18. Sheila Tone says:

    “And I think whatever was showing on our credit report (yeah, I’m still bitter about that) that gave the Cascadians the heebie-geebies must have disappeared.”

    They checked your credit report in determining your insurance rates? I did not know that.

    “On a couple of occasions over the years I’ve been approached by cops asking to see my ID when I’ve been standing around smoking.”

    That sounds like harassment, unless you look like you’re under 18.

  19. trumwill says:

    They checked your credit report in determining your insurance rates? I did not know that.

    They not only checked it, but after getting the report raised our rates by over a third from the quoted price. Most frustrating was that they couldn’t tell us why. They could only show us the report that they received, which contained nothing profoundly negative (both of us have FICO scores not-insignificantly over 700, but somehow did miserably using their formula). The opacity was infuriating.

    We stayed with them, though, because the alternative was that a new company would do a more thorough check of my driving record. We just cut out all of the insurance on my car but liability and uninsured motorist, which made up the difference.

    That sounds like harassment, unless you look like you’re under 18.

    Thinking back, it’s happened more than just a couple times. One time I asked what the problem was and he said loitering, so I assume that’s the basis that they use. I figure they’re mostly concerned that I’m trying to score some drugs or something. They’re not really antagonistic, though at the end they tell me that I need to get back in my car and go wherever it is I am going. Never found out what happens if I don’t have my ID on me. A couple times they’ve run it and I had to wait *forever* for the central HQ person to get back to them.

  20. Sheila Tone says:

    Mr. Tone doesn’t believe the credit score is why, not if you both had 700-plus. He queries as to why there was checking happening during a renewal with the same company. Our theory is, it happened because you moved to a new state. Or maybe they just raised their rates and didn’t calculate accurately the first time.

  21. trumwill says:

    I’m going to condense a three-comment, 15-paragraph response into something more manageable.

    The change in geography was accounted for in the initial quote (which was more than I was paying in Estacado).

    I think the reason they run the credit report is to answer the question of personal reliability, not to make sure that I will pay my bills on time. I had been a customer of theirs for over ten years and had never missed a payment. I also asked if it would help if I paid every term in advance and they told me that it wasn’t really about that.

    There are other things it could be. Could be a mistake in the quote, could be related to an error that was on the information that ChoicePoint/Equifax sent them regarding an erroneous lapse in coverage, or could be the shadow of a speeding ticket that didn’t show up on their records but may have affected me another way.

    Ultimately, though, I am going off what they said. In a form letter, they informed me that our rates would be higher than the quote due to problems with our credit history. They included a bunch of tips on how to improve our credit so that we can get lower rates in the future. I asked a lot of questions. If it was related to something else, the insurance reps had no idea what it could be.

    I can go into greater detail on the other possibilities if you would like to know more (in email). The whole thing was really quite infuriating, though I’ve since calmed down now that my rates are back to manageable levels.

  22. Peter says:

    Car insurers say that actuarial figures prove a strong linkage between bad credit and an unfavorable claims history. Most likely they’re telling the truth, though it’s not as if anyone could chech.

  23. DaveinHackensack says:

    “I’m going to condense a three-comment, 15-paragraph response into something more manageable.”

    You’re holding back on us! No chance we can convince you to post the unabridged original?

  24. Mike Hunt says:

    I think Will should tell the cop to go away the next time he is asked for ID in a similar situation.

  25. Mike Hunt says:

    @15

    If you are going to call others stupid, you should know it is called duct tape.

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