The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (MDPS) has
updated its Minnesota Driver’s Manual to address growing concerns dealing with
drivers being pulled over by law enforcement, including those legally in
possession of a firearm inside a vehicle.
The new language is in Section 4 of the 104-page
manual (“Sharing the Road”) in the sub-heading “What to Do and Expect When Stopped
by Law Enforcement” (Pages 40-42).
Earlier today (July 6), a press conference was held to
discuss the safety of drivers and officers in the event a driver is stopped and
in possession of legal firearm. Here is the complete wording of the new “What
to Do and Expect When Stopped by Law Enforcement” section of the driver’s
“Being stopped by a law enforcement officer can be a
stressful experience, but knowing what to do during the traffic stop will help
to ensure a safe interaction for all involved. When you see emergency lights
• Stay calm.
• Slow your vehicle and activate your turn signal.
• As soon as safely possible, pull to the right
shoulder; or, if on a multilane road and closer to the left shoulder, move to
the left shoulder if there is a full lane to park.
• Avoid stopping on a bridge, curved part of a
roadway, or within the lane of traffic.
• If the stop is made after dark, turn on your
vehicle’s interior light.
• Keep all doors shut and remain in the vehicle unless
directed otherwise by the officer.
• Keep your hands on the steering wheel so they are
• Give the officer your full attention.
• Do not make sudden movements or search for your driver’s license or vehicle documents, wait for the officer to give you instructions.
• If you have a weapon or firearm in the vehicle,
inform the officer upon your first interaction with them.
The officer may ask to see your identification
(driver’s license, photo ID, etc.) and proof of insurance. If the documents are
out of reach, tell the officer where they are located before reaching for them.
When the officer completes their interaction with you, they may issue a verbal
warning, written warning or traffic citation that may include a fine. If you
disagree with the officer’s decision to issue a traffic citation, do not
prolong the contact by arguing with the officer. If you wish to contest the
citation, you will have the opportunity to explain your point of view in court.
If clarifying questions are needed about the warning or citation, ask the
officer before the interaction is completed and avoid getting out of your
vehicle after the officer walks away. Failure to follow or refusal to comply
with any lawful order or direction of a law enforcement officer is illegal and
can result in being arrested. Do not resist if taken into custody by law
enforcement. The enforcement of traffic laws is an effective tool in changing
unsafe driving behavior, reducing crashes and injuries, and saving lives. If a
law enforcement officer gives you a warning or a citation for a traffic
violation, their intent is to deter future illegal and/or unsafe behavior and
to keep our roadways safe. Effective and clear communication from all involved
parties can make a traffic stop a safe experience. In addition to the
guidelines above, if you have a firearm in the vehicle keep your hands on the
steering wheel in a visible location and, when the officer approaches, let them
know that you have a firearm in the vehicle and tell them where the firearm is
located while continuing to keep your hands on the steering wheel. Do not reach
for the firearm. The officer may take possession of the weapon, for safety
reasons until the contact is complete.
Driver’s should not:
• Reach around inside the vehicle. If you need to
reach for an item, contact the officer verbally to indicate the item that you
need to locate and only do so after the officer has given verbal permission.
• Get out of the vehicle unexpectedly or approach the
officer. If you need to exit your vehicle, contact the officer verbally to ask
to exit the vehicle, and only exit after the officer has given verbal
permission to do so.
While every traffic stop varies based on the
circumstances, drivers can generally expect the officer to:
• Greet the driver.
• Identify themselves as a law enforcement officer.
• Obtain the driver’s license and proof of insurance.
• Inform the individual of the reason for the stop and
explain the circumstances for issuance of the citation or warning.
• Check both the validity and authenticity of the
The following forms of identification are acceptable
in identifying the driver during a traffic stop:
• Minnesota driver’s license
• Out-of-state driver’s license
• Temporary license
• Learner’s permit
• Military ID
• Consulate / International driver’s license
Depending on the nature of the stop, the officer may
issue a citation or warning, or take a violator into custody. The citation
should contain the specific code or statute and a description of the violation.
Accepting a citation from an officer is not an admission of guilt or
responsibility; it’s simply acknowledging the receipt of the citation in the
case of a civil violation and promising to appear in the case of a criminal violation.
All citations will be referred to a local jurisdiction for a hearing. Drivers
can use the court system to address criminal or civil matters, with the option
of a diversion program in some cases, such as driver education training. Law
enforcement officers are expected to maintain the highest level of
professionalism during a traffic stop. Should questions arise regarding the
officer’s conduct during a traffic stop, driver’s should contact the officer’s
law enforcement agency or supervisor using the officer information on the