Is it Legal to Drive Through a Funeral Procession in Connecticut?
Have you ever seen someone cut off a car in a funeral procession? Tailgate, or even worse, smash into one of the vehicles? I saw a car zip through a funeral procession along East Main Street in Waterbury, and my initial reaction was wow, that was disrespectful. I'm right, but according to the law, I'm wrong.
Here in Connecticut, there are no state laws governing funeral processions, unlike the majority of the United States. In New York, a funeral procession has be granted permission to disobey traffic signals, and there must be a traffic officer present to direct traffic. Rhode Island allows funeral processions to have the right of way, including intersections when the lead vehicle has lawfully entered it. Rhode Island law also states that drivers not in the procession may not drive through vehicles in the line, or enter an intersection as a procession is passing through, even if the traffic signal indicates to do so.
Can't we be like Rhode Island? I see most pull over and let processions go through our busy intersections out of respect for those in mourning.
I spoke with one of my oldest friends, who wishes to remain anonymous, who runs a funeral home here in Connecticut that has been in operation since the early 1900's, and he told me "funeral processions have no extra rights at all in Connecticut, it's a courtesy to go through traffic lights, etc. Even with a police escort, we're still technically breaking Connecticut law. And, if any vehicle with the right of way hits a car in procession, it's the driver in the procession's fault. Connecticut tries to change that every year, but insurance-wise, funeral homes aren't covered, so it never passes."