Ask a Trooper: Pulling over on the side of the road for emergencies only

Published 5:38 am Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Question: Now that Minnesota’s hands-free law is in effect, it seems there are numerous vehicles pulled over on the shoulder with the driver talking or texting on the phone. This seems unsafe. Is it legal, and if not, what is the recommended procedure upon receiving a call or text that needs a prompt response and hands free options are not available?

Answer: Minnesota law does not allow motorists to stop on a roadway unless it is for an emergency.

Instances like this prevent us from utilizing our resources as efficiently as possible because our dispatch center may receive numerous calls reporting an occupied stalled vehicle. A trooper would then be sent to the reported location to either find someone talking on their phone or no longer at the site.

Email newsletter signup

We encourage motorists to find a safe place to exit and find a parking lot or legal parking zone before manipulating their phone.

Remember under the law, you may not hold your phone in your hand or use it at any time for video calling, video streaming, social media apps, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone.​

The new law does allow a driver to use their cell phone, but only in hands-free mode by voice commands or single-touch activation.

Emergency calls are allowed in both hand-held and hands-free mode. 

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober.  Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848.  (Or reach him at,