Ask a Trooper: Do drivers always need to physically carry license?

Published 8:45 pm Friday, July 21, 2023

Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

Troy Christianson

Question: My daughter recently left her license at her grandparents’ house and couldn’t get it for a week, so we were wondering: Do you need to carry your physical driver’s license card with you while driving? What happens if you get pulled over and don’t have it with you?

Answer: Minnesota law states that a person shall have their driver license (DL) in immediate possession when operating a motor vehicle and show it when a law enforcement officer requests it. It is important to have your DL in your possession if you are involved in a crash, we are able to identify you and make contact with your family. If you do not have your DL on you when you are pulled over for a traffic violation, we can identify you by your name and date of birth and verify it is the right person by the picture. If you do not have your DL in possession you can be cited for no DL in possession, which is a $140 fine, but courts will dismiss the citation if you provide your DL to them before your court date.

Email newsletter signup

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 St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848; or reach him at

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.