Ask a Trooper: Firearms

Question: Did I hear there was some new information that was put out on what to do if stopped with a firearm?

Answer: The Minnesota Driver’s Manual update includes input from community advocates and law enforcement.  It helps set clear guidance for drivers and law enforcement to help both parties know what to expect when a traffic stop occurs.

This recommendation is also part of the Minnesota Working Group on Police Involved Deadly Force Encounters, which asks the state do more to educate the officers and the public on what to expect during traffic stops, especially if there is a firearm in the vehicle.

The updated Minnesota Driver’s Manual information 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 updated 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.

Additional 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.

A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. 

You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us.

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