Evidence of the Driver's Identity In Arizona

In State v. Boudette, 164 Ariz. 180, 182-83, 791 P.2d 1063, 1065-66 (App. 1990), we held a predecessor to this statute unconstitutionally vague because it did not specify what type of identification other than a driver's license would suffice. In a 1995 amendment, the legislature responded by setting forth the five items listed above, which "evidence of the driver's identity" shall contain. See 1995 Ariz. Sess. Laws, ch. 286, 8. The amendment did not, however, expressly state whether the evidence must be documentary or whether verbal evidence could suffice. To interpret an inspecific statute, we must "read the statute as a whole, and give meaningful operation to all of its provisions." Wyatt v. Wehmueller, 167 Ariz. 281, 284, 806 P.2d 870, 873 (1991). We seek to determine legislative intent by considering "the statute's context, subject matter, historical background, effects and consequences, and spirit and purpose." Zamora v. Reinstein, 185 Ariz. 272, 275, 915 P.2d 1227, 1230 (1996). In so doing, we undertake to "avoid rendering statutory language superfluous, void, contradictory, or insignificant." State v. Tarango, 185 Ariz. 208, 212, 914 P.2d 1300, 1304 (1996). One must possess a driver's license while operating a motor vehicle in Arizona and must display it upon a police officer's request. SeeA.R.S. 28-3169(A). The license must contain "the licensee's full name, date of birth and residence address, a brief description of the licensee and either a facsimile of the signature of the licensee or a space on which the licensee is required to write the licensee's usual signature with pen and ink." A.R.S. 28-3166(A). The license must also contain the photo image of the licensee. A.R.S. 28-3166(B). These requirements, which establish a driver's license as a form of verification of identity, provide a frame of reference for A.R.S. 28-1595(B), which requires that a licensed operator display a license and that an unlicensed operator provide "evidence of identity." An evident purpose of the statute is to require all motor vehicle operators, whether licensed or unlicensed, to possess a means for a police officer, when making a vehicular stop or issuing a traffic citation, to ascertain and verify the operator's identity. Thus, when the legislature responded to Boudette by amending the statute to require that an unlicensed operator's "evidence of identity" contain the operator's name, date of birth, address, physical description, and signature, the legislature was demonstrably attempting to require an operator who lacked a driver's license to provide a source of functionally equivalent identification.