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This is (fortunately) a purely hypothetical question.

If I, as Citizen in the European Union, make a road trip in the USA, get in a police traffic control an only have my local IDs with me (not my international passport or the international drivers license), what consequences do I have to fear?

  • What do you mean by "local IDs"? Unlike many places, in the USA you're required to carry your driving license while actually driving. – Michael Hampton Dec 14 '19 at 8:17
  • In this case I would have my German personal ID and my German driving licence with me, but not my international passport and international drivers licence (afaik the local drivers license is not valid in other countries outside the EU) – Viktor Katzy Dec 14 '19 at 8:21
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    You are aware that the internatinonal driving licence is actually not a licence in itself, but merely a translation of your existing licence? You're generally expected to present both of them to foreign police (at least, outside the EU). – Michael Hampton Dec 14 '19 at 8:23
  • By ‘with me’ do you mean at that particular moment, or that you don’t possess an IDL and/or a valid passport? – Traveller Dec 14 '19 at 8:24
  • In the US drivers licenses are considered a form of ID. – Jacob Horbulyk Dec 14 '19 at 8:25
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During a police traffic control, as in all countries, you must have the documentation required by the local law.

In most cases this will be a valid driver's licence and papers for the car.

For a foreign lincense some countries (and some US States) require a IDP (international drivers permit/license).

Depending on the situation, a police officer could also demand documentation of citizenship and/or legal status through an National ID or passport.

In the US the last is less likely, unless you run into a control done by the United States Border Patrol, where - as a visitor - a passport may be required.

What may happen to you if you cannot supply the needed documentation will depend on the laws of the local authorities, which can differ greatly.

Assume: no joy will fall upon you.

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    Is there a legal requirement to carry a passport in the USA? In the UK, you don’t need to carry any ID at all. – greatone Dec 14 '19 at 16:18
  • @greatone It varies by state whether you have to carry ID at all times. But in every state you have to carry your driver license while driving. It's a good idea to carry your passport near the border as there are occasionally random Border Patrol checks internally. – Michael Hampton Dec 14 '19 at 16:22
  • @greatone Many motels ask for one when checking in. I gave my German ID to my US- Citizen friend who mostly paid upfront. He said they barely looked at it. But in one case it was rejected and a passport was asked for with no reason given why. I assume if they don't what it is, they ask for something else. – Mark Johnson Dec 14 '19 at 17:02
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    To keep this in proportion, I've lived as an alien in the US within 100 miles of the Mexico border since 1975. I have had to show the Border Patrol documentation while driving in the area exactly once. – Patricia Shanahan Dec 14 '19 at 17:04
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    @GerardAshton the permanent ones are all near Mexico. See for example cbp.gov/border-security/along-us-borders/border-patrol-sectors/…. – phoog Dec 15 '19 at 17:05
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In the US, police are state or local officials, not national officials (with rare exceptions, such as on military bases). Their main concern is enforcing state laws and local ordinances, not enforcing immigration rules. I don't think I've ever read the phrase "police traffic control" before. Police do occasionally set up checkpoints where they stop each car and speak briefly to the driver. During these stops their main concern is to see if the driver appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If an officer requests a driver to show a driver license, in some states the officer will accept a foreign license by itself; in other states the officer may require it be presented together with an international driving permit.

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