“I am a truck driver and would like to know if, when I am making a delivery, do I have to surrender my drivers license? It is becoming company policy at many places. People are even making photo copies of my license. What can I do to protect myself?”
Generally speaking, there’s no legal requirement that you show your ID to a private party who asks for it. In a few cases, such as when entering federal government facilities, there are federal laws which may require you to show ID. However, at least one of those laws is currently being challenged as unconstitutional.
While you don’t have to show your ID to a private party, there is also no law that guarantees you entrance to private property if you don’t honor their ID request. Think of a bar or a casino; they may want to check your ID to see if you meet the legal age requirement. You are within your rights to refuse the ID request. But they are also within their rights to refuse entrance to you.
You are correct to be concerned about the privacy risks of giving people a copy of your driver license — a driver license can provide personal details that could be used for identity theft — and you are well within your rights to refuse. When someone says, “I’m under orders to get your license,” you can simply say, “I’ve been advised not to give up my ID unless required by law.” If it’s a government facility, they should be able to cite the law. But if it’s a private business, they’ve got nothing to fall back on. All they can do is hope that if they look mean enough you’ll knuckle under and give them what they want.
The more important question for you, however, is a practical one. What would be your consequences for refusing to surrender your license? For example, would they refuse to accept the cargo you’re delivering? Would they cause trouble for you with your employer? Does your employer even have a policy regarding customers who request a copy of your license?
You should also look at alternatives you might have to giving up your license. For example, does your employer provide you with any form of official corporate ID? You can’t be the only truck driver to have raised this question; how have they or other companies responded? Perhaps they might consider issuing an official ID card with your name, photograph, and the company name on it that you can use in lieu of surrendering your drivers license.
If your employer cannot or will not, you may want to consider creating your own alternative. For example, you can create a very inexpensive business card, complete with your own photograph, at a place like VistaPrint.com or OvernightPrints.com. Just get a passport-style photograph of yourself (e.g., a professional-looking head-and-shoulders shot in front of a plain white or other solid color background… NOT a vacation snapshot of you standing with Mickey Mouse at Disneyland!), and have it printed on a business card along with your company’s name, and full contact information. Armed with your own business card, when you refuse to present ID, you can offer them your business card with your smiling face and contact information as an alternative. It should provide them with all the information they could reasonably need for their recordkeeping about your delivery.
Luckily we don’t live in a Soviet-style dictatorship where people can go around demanding, “your papers, please!” But as paranoia about terrorism grows, overzealous attempts to improve security can lead to little actual improvement in security even as they represent a compromise in liberty. Many citizens are all too willing to forget that personal privacy rights are a fundamental part of what makes America a target of freedom-hating regimes around the world. When it comes to everybody and their uncle demanding ID, I can assure you that the terrorists have excellent fake IDs which they’re all too happy to show when asked.
Standing up for your privacy rights is one of the most American things you can do. So don’t let anyone bully you into compromising your privacy based on misguided attempts at improving security.