Cutting Through Funeral Processions – Are you breaking the law?

We often hear people speak of a decrease in civility these days. One notable example is the increase in the number of drivers that attempt to cut through funeral processions. A recent article in the Washington Post[1] cited a study by the Automobile Association of America which indicated that at least two people have died and 23 were injured in 2012 as a result of accidents caused by drivers exhibiting such discourteous behavior.[2] In Virginia, such impatience is not merely rude; it’s against the law.

A Virginia statute provides that any funeral procession under a police or sheriff’s escort has the right-of-way in any highway and that no vehicle, not part of the procession, shall “join, pass through, or interfere” with such a procession.[3] Another Virginia statute states that it is unlawful for any driver “intentionally to impede or disrupt a funeral procession.” [4] The latter section applies not only to funeral processions led by a law enforcement officer, but to any procession which is escorted or led by a vehicle displaying flashing amber or purple lights.[5] A third Virginia statute permits any law enforcement vehicle, while operated by or under the direction of an appropriate law enforcement office as a funeral escort, to disregard speed limits, red lights, parking or stopping prohibitions, and turning and passing prohibitions, so long as the escort still shows due regard for the safety of other persons and property.[6] In other words, just sit tight: it doesn’t matter if you have the green light, the right of way through an intersection, or are in a hurry to get to an appointment. Most of the time the funeral procession has the right of way. The penalty for choosing not to wait for the procession is a hefty four points which will stay on your driving record with the Virginia DMV for three years[7]. As a moving violation, the penalty can also increase the premium you pay for automobile insurance.

Waiting for a funeral procession to pass by is not only courteous, it’s the smart, safe, less expensive, and legal choice.

About the Author: Tammy Ruble is a long time Chesterfield resident and an attorney with personal injury law firm of Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. She serves as a resource on issues in her special fields of expertise which include the crafting of Complaints and documents relating to infant settlements, wrongful death settlements, due diligence, and discovery.

[1] See “Respect for the Dead Wanes When Funeral Processions Hit Insane Washington Traffic”, at

[7] See applicable Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle regulations at