DPS, Valerie Castile announce traffic stop guideline updates to state's driver's manual

Rebecca Omastiak & Charlie Wiese
Updated: July 07, 2020 07:34 AM
Created: July 06, 2020 09:17 AM

Monday, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced changes to the state's driver's manual.

Philando Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, joined the DPS in announcing the new guidelines for traffic stops, specifically when a driver has a firearm.


Valerie Castile advocated for updates to the manual, to clarify what drivers and law enforcement officers should and should not do during a traffic stop. The updates also describe what drivers should expect from law enforcement during a traffic stop.

Philando Castile died during a traffic stop in July 2016. He told a Falcon Heights officer he was legally carrying a firearm moments before he was shot.

The new information in the 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.

The new language begins on page 40 of the driver's manual.

"On this day, as I remember Philando, I'm pleased that Minnesota has taken this important step to help prevent another tragedy," Castile said. "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."

"I want to thank Valerie Castile for bringing this change forward," said DPS Commissioner John Harrington. "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." 

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