ASK A TROOPER: Know what to do during a traffic stop

SgtNeil Dickenson Photo.jpg
Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol

Question: What should a driver do if they are stopped by law enforcement?

Answer: When you first see the red lights behind you, safely pull over to the right and stop as far off the road as possible. Do not keep driving. The officer probably knows the area well and intends for you to stop right away and they will protect your vehicle with their squad car.

Once you are pulled over, remain in the vehicle and try keep your hands on the steering wheel and in plain sight of the officer. The officer(s) will approach the vehicle and let you know what they want you to do next, and will probably explain why you are being stopped. Pay attention to what the officer says and listen carefully to them and any instructions they may give.

Always keep your driver’s license with you, and have current proof of insurance (for the vehicle you are driving) ready to display to the officer when requested. Having proof of insurance on an electronic device is legal, but I recommend that you print a copy of your insurance card in case your electronic equipment is unable to display your proof of insurance and keep it in your vehicle.


You don’t have to have the vehicle registration unless you are driving a commercial vehicle, as we will have that information by entering your license plate into our computer.

If you have any questions about what has taken place during the stop, just ask the officer after they seem to have completed their contact.

If you receive a citation, the officer will explain to you your options and provide you with the information needed to proceed with the process of paying the fine(s) and how that is accomplished. Citations issued by the Minnesota State Patrol will have contact information printed on the citation.

Please obey all traffic, equipment and registration laws.

If you have any questions about traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave, Duluth, MN 55811 or email

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