ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced updates for the official Minnesota Driver's Manual, giving motorists clear guidance on what to expect during a traffic stop, including when a driver is carrying a firearm.
The changes were suggested by Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, and announced four years to the day after he was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop. Video of the incident showed Castile telling the officer he was legally carrying a firearm.
The newly updated guidance advises motorists with firearms to keep their hands on the steering wheel as the officer approaches, let the officer know they have a firearm, and to tell the officer the firearm’s location. Drivers are advised not to reach around inside the vehicle, or get out of the vehicle unexpectedly or approach the officers.
“On this day, as I remember Philando, I’m pleased that Minnesota has taken this important step to help prevent another tragedy,” Valerie Castile said in a statement. “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.”
RELATED: Castile's family speaks out
“Traffic stops can be unpredictable and dangerous, especially when officers and drivers aren’t on the same page,” Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said in a statement. “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 Driver's Manual updates also outline what drivers can expect from law enforcement officers during a traffic stop:
- 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
The Department of Public Safety also has this advice for drivers during a traffic stop:
- 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
The new language is found on page 40 of the Minnesota Driver's Manual.