Q Am I allowed to drive through a red light in North Carolina if I'm driving in a funeral procession?
Traffic signals, right of way, and other road rules followed while operating a motor vehicle are different during funeral processions, and these differences are unique to every state. Since every state has statutes addressing traffic rules during funeral processions it is important to research what is permissible if you are visiting a jurisdiction outside your home state for a burial.
In North Carolina it is legal to drive through a red light during a funeral procession if certain conditions have been met; this does not relieve any particular driver of fault should an accident occur as the circumstances of each accident are unique and should be reviewed with an attorney.
"Funeral procession" is defined by the N.C.. Gen. Stat. § 20-157.1 Funeral Processions as two or more vehicles. According to the statute:
The operator of the lead vehicle in a funeral procession shall comply with all traffic-control signals, but when the lead vehicle in a funeral procession has progressed across an intersection in accordance with the traffic-control sign or signal, or when directed to do so by a law enforcement officer or a designee of a law enforcement officer or the funeral director, or when the lead vehicle is a law enforcement vehicle which progresses across the intersection while giving appropriate warning by light or siren, all vehicles in the funeral procession may proceed through the intersection without stopping, except that the operator of each vehicle shall exercise reasonable care towards any other vehicle or pedestrian on the highway. An operator of a vehicle that is not part of the funeral procession shall not join the funeral procession for the purpose of securing the right-of-way granted by this subsection.
As you can see, funeral processions have the right-of-way in North Carolina, but they must yield to emergency vehicles or as directed by police. Also, the lead vehicle must be marked with a flag or light to signify a funeral procession. Each vehicle in the procession must have its headlights and hazard lights on.