28-776. Funeral or military procession right-of-way; funeral or military escort vehicles; certification; fee; definitions

A. Pedestrians and the operators of all vehicles, except emergency vehicles, shall yield the right-of-way to each vehicle that is a part of a funeral procession being led by a funeral escort vehicle or a military procession being led by a military escort vehicle. The driver of the funeral escort vehicle or military escort vehicle may direct the drivers of other vehicles in the procession to proceed through any intersection or to make turns or other movements, and the other vehicles may continue to follow and make the turns or other movements as are made by or as directed by the driver of the funeral escort vehicle or military escort vehicle notwithstanding any traffic control device prescribed by statute or local ordinance, except that a driver of a vehicle in the funeral procession or military procession shall not exceed the posted speed limit and shall exercise reasonable and prudent care to avoid colliding with any other vehicle or pedestrian on the roadway. Each vehicle in a funeral procession or military procession shall have its headlights lighted.

B. A driver of a funeral escort vehicle or military escort vehicle who is certified pursuant to subsection D of this section may direct and control the drivers of vehicles in a funeral procession or military procession and any other vehicle in or approaching any intersection to stop, proceed or make the turns or other movements as required without regard to any traffic control device prescribed by statute or local ordinance. Funeral escort vehicles or military escort vehicles may exceed the speed limit by fifteen miles per hour when overtaking processions to direct traffic at the next intersection.  A funeral escort vehicle or military escort vehicle shall be equipped with at least one lighted lamp exhibiting a red or red and blue light or lens visible under normal atmospheric conditions from a distance of five hundred feet to the front of the vehicle and an audible signal by bell, siren or exhaust whistle as required under section 28-624.

C. The sheriff in each county shall register funeral escort vehicles and military escort vehicles and issue an identification sticker or plate that is affixed to the vehicle in order to identify the vehicle as a funeral escort vehicle or military escort vehicle. When acting as a funeral escort or military escort, the driver of a properly equipped and registered funeral escort vehicle or military escort vehicle has all of the rights and privileges of a driver of an authorized emergency vehicle proceeding to an emergency call as provided under section 28-624.

D. Within thirty days after receiving an application for approval, the sheriff in each county shall approve or disapprove in writing all markings, emblems, seals and other insignia on a funeral escort vehicle before being displayed.  The sheriff may not unreasonably withhold approval.  The sheriff shall ensure that the vehicle does not bear markings similar to the vehicle markings used by a law enforcement agency of the federal or state government or a political subdivision of this state or bear words, emblems, seals or other insignia that could cause a reasonable person to confuse the vehicle with a law enforcement vehicle. Beginning October 1, 2008, the right and left sides of a funeral escort vehicle shall be clearly marked with the words "funeral escort" in letters that are at least five inches in height, except that if the funeral escort vehicle is a motorcycle the letters shall be at least two inches in height.

E. The sheriff in each county may certify any person who holds at least a valid class A, B, C, D or M driver license issued by this state as a certified driver of a funeral escort vehicle or military escort vehicle if the person:

1. Completes a training program in motor vehicle safety and traffic control safety as prescribed by the sheriff.

2. Pays the fee that is prescribed by the sheriff for the program and that does not exceed the cost of the program.

F. Within thirty days after receiving an application for approval, the sheriff in each county shall approve or disapprove in writing all uniforms, badges, patches and insignias worn by a certified driver of a funeral escort vehicle before being displayed.  The sheriff may not unreasonably withhold approval.  Beginning October 1, 2008, the uniform shall contain insignia that identifies the wearer as a funeral escort.  The sheriff shall ensure that a uniform, badge, patch or insignia does not bear markings similar to the markings of a law enforcement agency of the federal or state government or a political subdivision of this state or bear the words "sheriff", "police", "deputy", "marshall", "agent" or "officer" or any other word that could cause a reasonable person to confuse a certified driver of a funeral escort vehicle with law enforcement personnel.

G. Each county sheriff shall recognize as valid in that county a registered military escort vehicle or a certified driver of a military escort vehicle, or both, if the registration or certification, or both, occurs in another county in this state pursuant to this section.

H. A person:

1. Shall not receive any compensation for providing a military procession.

2. May only provide a military procession if requested by a United States military member or veteran or the family of a United States military member or veteran.

I. For the purposes of this section:

1. "Funeral procession" means two or more vehicles accompanying the body of a deceased person, including a funeral escort vehicle registered by the sheriff.

2. "Military procession" means two or more vehicles, including a military escort vehicle, accompanying any of the following:

(a) The body of a deceased member of the United States military or a deceased veteran of the United States military.

(b) A member of the United States military who is being deployed or who is returning from deployment.

(c) A person who is being honored at a military event.

(d) A monument honoring United States military members or veterans of the United States military that is being transported in this state.