Funeral Processions in Maine: The Difference Between Courtesy & State Law
While traveling on Sabattus Street in Lewiston, Maine, I encountered an unexpectedly high volume of traffic, which was unusual for the time of day.
Given the fact that it was raining, my initial thought was this could have been an accident. However, that changed when I observed a police officer stationed in the middle of the road, halting traffic at an intersection.
As I proceeded further, another police officer was similarly pausing traffic at the other end of the road at another intersection. It wasn't until I noticed the line of cars with their hazard lights on that I realized I was watching a funeral procession.
What is a funeral procession?
According to Jewelry Keepsakes, it's a group of loved ones who are traveling from a funeral to a burial site in a line of cars to put someone to rest. This line of cars can run red lights and stop signs as they travel to the cemetery or place of burial.
The procession should always look to be properly identified with flags or flashing lights and is normally led by the hearse.
When this happens, I usually sit and wait for them to pass. Sometimes I set a little intention of love and send it their way. But this time, it took a long time and someone must've been in a hurry because they abruptly cut in front of the procession.
I thought, is that illegal? I mean, it would seem so, right? Cutting off a funeral procession that is being assisted by police officers?
Is it illegal to cut off a funeral procession in Maine?
Nope. It's not illegal.
There is no current law in Maine that says a driver has to wait for a funeral procession. It looks like this is just kindness and etiquette to let them pass. However, law people are hard at work trying to introduce bills that would fine a driver for not waiting.
There was a bill that was brought up years ago trying to make it an infraction to interrupt a funeral procession in Maine called "An Act To Protect the Integrity of Funeral Processions".
"A person operating a motor vehicle may not interrupt or cut into a funeral procession. A violation of this section is a traffic infraction for which a fine not to exceed $100 may be adjudged."
However, as of right now, nothing has passed that would fine someone for cutting in line or not being courteous of the funeral line of loved ones.
Here's The Etiquette with Funeral Processions in Maine
Yield the right of way, to them. Let them pass because we've all lost someone. I love the integrity of this old-fashioned tradition of giving the right of way to a funeral procession.
Funeral processions have been a thing for thousands of years and started in Ancient Egypt. It's been happening since kings and queens were around.
So unless you have an emergency, I would say to respect this thousand-year-old tradition and just wait a few minutes. Eh?
If not, make sure what you are doing is safe!