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In Indonesia, whenever prisoner vehicle transportation passed, they always drive in a row and honk loudly whenever they get stuck. Is there any law about whether they could run red light? Is there any consequence if they stop? What about the law in US?

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  • In the US prison transport isn't special and have to follow the general traffic laws. Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 8:21
  • In the US, if prisoner transport does not drive safely and the prisoner gets killed, riots can erupt.
    – WBT
    Commented Apr 27, 2016 at 18:28

2 Answers 2

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Regarding the United States Part of the Question:

I am not aware of any special traffic laws for prison vehicles in the United States, although you would have to do a fifty-state survey to be certain of that because traffic laws are regulated state-by-state.

However ordinary defenses would apply, such as necessity, so if you constructed highly artificial hypotheticals, such as cases where it was necessary to violate traffic laws to prevent a prisoner escape, their violation would likely be legally permitted.

Furthermore, if you were dealing with a particularly risky prisoner transport (which is extremely uncommon in the United States), a police escort could accompany the prisoner transport and ignore traffic lights, although the particular law allowing for that would vary based on the state.

In the normal non-dangerous case, as a practical matter, both inter-government rivalries and inter-government courtesies can have a very serious effect on how closely a prisoner transport will be held to the traffic laws. In some communities there is intense distrust between police officers and corrections officers; on the other hand, police rarely bother to ticket government employees who are on the job unless they do something particularly egregious. Also, prisoner transports have no particular reason to speed or drive unsafely.

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In the United States various government entities can distribute traffic preemption devices. The rules governing their distribution and use varies by state.

When activated, the traffic preemption device signals properly equipped traffic control devices (which includes most traffic lights in populated areas) to give the vehicle the right of way.

It is standard practice to equip emergency vehicles (police, fire, and ambulance) with these. I would not be surprised if prisoner transport vehicles get them, especially if they are running in convoy.

Of course, the government can give any vehicle emergency lights and sirens, which require all other traffic to yield when in operation. And it is common for jurisdictional law enforcement to provide "lights-and-sirens" escorts for high-risk transports, dignitaries, and special events like notable funeral processions.

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