If you've ever been pulled over by the police while driving, regardless of the reason, you've likely been asked a very common question. "Do you know why I pulled you over?" has often been a very early part of many conversations during traffic stops between officers and drivers.

In Minnesota, this question will be disappearing from future traffic stop interactions as a change to the state's law goes on the books this year.

What does the new law say?

The new law, passed during the 2024 Minnesota Legislative Session, prohibits peace officers from asking drivers about the reason for the traffic stop.

The new law goes on to explain that an officer must "inform the vehicle's operator of a reason for the stop unless it would be unreasonable to do so under the totality of the circumstances."

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Simply put, rather than first asking the driver why they think they are being pulled over, the officer is now supposed to just explain the reason for the stop.

What happens if an officer doesn't follow this new law?

Confused young man

The new state law explains that an officer's failure to follow this law "must not serve as the basis for exclusion of evidence or dismissal of a charge or citation". What does this mean?

To translate, you're not off the hook for the charge/citation if a law enforcement officer asks why you think they pulled you over. There are no specified ramifications for the officer, though most departments say compliance with this new law shouldn't be a major issue.

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FOX 9 reports that most officers and departments around the state are on board with this new law, with many departments already eliminating the question.

Why was the change made?

The primary goals are to prevent drivers from feeling the need to self-incriminate and to reduce potential tension during traffic stops.

An officer the MinnPost spoke to about the law explains “You don’t want to start the conversation in a position where the violator has to make an admission of guilt or something like that".

FOX 9 reports that traffic stop interactions where an officer offers their observations rather than asking why the driver thinks they were pulled over are less likely to escalate.

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According to 2022 data from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Gallery Credit: Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth

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