Ask a Trooper: Funeral processions

Q: What is the law concerning funeral processions? I see them once in a while and some drivers pull over, but some mix in with the funeral procession. I just think there are a lot of people who don’t know what to do, and if you could address the rule on this it might help.

A: I’d be glad to. Minnesota State Statute (M.S.S.) 169.20, subdivision 6 says, “When any funeral procession identifies itself by using regular lights on all cars and by keeping all cars in close formation, the driver of every other vehicle, except an emergency vehicle, shall yield the right-of-way.” We don’t have a definition of “funeral procession” in the statutes other than what is provided in this statute, but we do have a definition of right-of-way. M.S.S. 169.011, subdivision 66 says, “Right-of-way means the privilege of the immediate use of highway.”

We all need to use common sense when encountering a funeral procession. Sometimes the vehicles in the procession may not be driving close enough together to be easily identified as a funeral procession, or perhaps some (if not several) of the vehicles in the procession don’t have their headlights on. We have heard of complaints of vehicles coming up from behind a procession and trying to pass some or all of the vehicles or cutting in the procession. Those kinds of actions should be avoided and are probably a violation of law or at least a disrespectful act. When meeting a procession on a two-lane road, I always pull over and stop. At the very least, a driver should slow down and move over toward the right of their lane more in cases like these. Officers will often be at intersections where there are stoplights or stop signs and assist funeral processions as requested by the funeral director.

Thanks for asking about this. I hope this brief discussion will do some good. All of us need to work together to ensure a safe environment on our roadways. Slow down, buckle up, drive sober and pay attention.