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Ask a Trooper: Driver inquires about funeral processions

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Question: What is the law concerning funeral processions? I see them once in a while and some drivers pull over, some mix right in with the funeral procession.

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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.

Answer: I did an article about this before at the request of some funeral director acquaintances, but it has been a while so I guess we should at least put out a quick reminder. Some people think the current law covering this issue is not very specific and needs some clarification but it is what it is. 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. Hopefully 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.

— If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, jesse.grabow@state.mn.us)

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