ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Driver’s Manual has been updated to include information on what drivers and law enforcement should expect during a traffic stop, particularly when a driver has a firearm.
Valerie Castile advocated for the addition to the manual to encourage consistency in traffic stops by law enforcement and ensure that drivers know what to expect. Castile’s son, Philando, died four years ago today after a Falcon Heights police officer shot him during a traffic stop. Philando Castile informed the officer that he was legally carrying a firearm.
Ms. Castile’s recommendation was one of 28 announced by the working group on police-involved deadly force encounters chaired by Department of Public Safety (DPS) Commissioner John Harrington and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison. The working group included representatives from community, advocacy, academic, foundation, mental health, law enforcement and criminal justice system organizations. The group’s executive summary
is available on the DPS website.
“On this day, as I remember Philando, I’m pleased that Minnesota has taken this important step to help prevent another tragedy,” said Ms. Castile. “This addition to the Driver’s Manual is about setting a new standard for law enforcement and making sure all drivers and law enforcement know what to expect when you are being pulled over. It's about keeping everyone safe.”
Commissioner Harrington said being stopped by a law enforcement officer can be a stressful experience. However, knowing what to do during the interaction will help to ensure a safe interaction for all involved.
“I want to thank Valerie Castile for bringing this change forward. Ms. Castile has worked tirelessly with DPS to advance ideas that will increase safety,” Commissioner Harrington said. “Traffic stops can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially when officers and drivers aren’t on the same page. Both drivers and officers can help to make traffic stops safer by being better informed. We see the added language to the Driver’s Manual as guidance for drivers and law enforcement so there is greater consistency in how these situations are handled.”
The Minnesota Driver’s Manual already includes guidance for motorists stopped by law enforcement. The new language outlines in further detail what drivers with firearms should and should not do during a traffic stop. It also describes what motorists can expect from law enforcement.
Highlights of the guidance for motorists with firearms
The new information in the Minnesota Driver’s Manual advises motorists with firearms to:
- Keep their hands on the steering wheel as the officer approaches.
- Let the officer know they have a firearm.
- Tell the officer the firearm’s location.
Drivers should not:
- Reach around inside the vehicle.
- Get out of the vehicle unexpectedly or approach the officer.
The new language also outlines what drivers can expect from law enforcement during a traffic stop. 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 driver’s license.
Other advice for drivers during a traffic stop includes:
- Stay calm.
- Slow your vehicle and activate your turn signal.
- As soon as safely possible, pull to the right shoulder; or if on a multi-lane 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 traffic 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 easily observable.
- 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.
About Driver and Vehicle Services
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services division (DVS) is responsible for driver testing, driver licensing and maintenance of driver records; driver evaluation and compliance; motor vehicle title and registration; commercial vehicle registration; motor vehicle dealer licensing and regulation; and enforcement of no-fault insurance requirements.
About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.