Ask a Trooper: Current driver's license must be in immediate possession

Questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota may be sent to Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow at 1000 Highway 10 W., Detroit Lakes, MN 56560. You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or email him at

Close-up of Minnesota State Patrol trooper's squad vehicle

Question: I know we are supposed to have our driver’s license with us whenever driving. My wife uses two purses, in one she has the original driver’s license and in the other one she has a copy. Is the copy accepted or should she have the original license?

Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow
Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow

Answer: Minnesota law requires that every licensee shall have the license (driver’s license, instruction permit or provisional license) in immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle. The license is the document issued under the laws of the state.

A copy of the license would not be a sufficient document and the driver must have the current valid document.

I see a number of motorists who carry their expired driver’s license (sometimes multiple expired licenses) along with their current one. Not only are those documents invalid, if they fell into the wrong hands (i.e. lost, stolen, etc) they could be used in criminal activity.


I would recommend properly securing or destroying unneeded documents to help prevent this. Shredding would be the smartest and safest choice.

If a license is lost, destroyed or becomes illegible, a person must obtain a new one. If it was stolen, it may be wise to report it to your local law enforcement agency (police department or sheriff’s office) to have it documented.

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