Questions Posted to "Ask a Dispatcher"
Q. I know laws regarding the use of police vehicles vs civilian vehicles vary from state to state. What are the laws regarding police vehicles driving above the speed limit, doing U-turns, parking, and any other applicable law that would normally apply to a civilian, if the police car does not have their emergency lights on?
Dear Juneau Resident,
13 AAC 02.517 is the state law and it is repeated in ordinance in CBJ 72.02.517. If you have observed an emergency vehicle being operated in a way that concerns you, you should certainly call the appropriate supervisor at that agency. Most agencies have policies that are more restrictive than the law. Drivers of emergency vehicles are often reminded that they no only represent the agency while driving but are responsible if he or she creates a dangerous situation. These concerns must be balanced with rapid response to the highest level emergencies and tactical concerns.
72.02.517 Authorized and other emergency vehicles.
The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle when responding to an emergency call, when in pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of a statute, regulation or ordinance, when responding to but not upon returning from a fire alarm, or in the performance of official duties may disregard a statute, regulation or ordinance governing the operation, stopping, standing or parking of a vehicle, except as provided in this section.
The driver of an authorized emergency vehicle when responding to an emergency must use an audible signal meeting the requirements of subsection 72.04.210(d) and visual signals meeting the requirements of section 72.04.090, except that an authorized emergency vehicle operated as a police vehicle need not display a red light visible from in front of the vehicle and except as provided in subsection (c) of this section.
A driver of an authorized emergency vehicle which is parked, stopped or standing in disregard of a regulation or ordinance prohibiting the parking, stopping or standing may not use an audible signal.
The driver of an off-highway vehicle may operate the vehicle upon a highway or railroad right-of-way when the vehicle is serving as an authorized emergency vehicle.
A person driving a vehicle displaying a flashing blue light meeting the requirements of section 72.04.100 when responding to, but not upon returning from, an emergency may, if not otherwise prohibited by a municipality, without undue danger to the safety of other persons or property:
Park or stand the vehicle in violation of a traffic regulation or ordinance or near the scene of the fire to which the person responded;
Except as provided in subsection (f) of this section, exceed the maximum speed limit if the person does not unreasonably endanger life or property, slows at each intersection, and exercises care under the circumstances; and
Disregard regulations or ordinances governing direction, movement or turning in a specified direction if the person does so at a speed less than the maximum speed limit for that location.
The provisions of this section do not relieve the driver of an authorized emergency vehicle or a vehicle displaying a flashing blue light from the duty to drive with regard for the safety of all persons, nor do the provisions of this section allow the driver of a vehicle displaying a flashing blue light to proceed past a stop sign or red signal without first stopping.
When the commissioner or the commissioner's designee authorizes a person's motor vehicle to be equipped with a flashing blue light meeting the requirements of section 72.04.100, the authorization must be in writing, and must be carried at all times in the vehicle. Failure to carry the authorization does not affect the status of the vehicle as an emergency vehicle. An authorization issued under this section is valid for five years from date of issue. An authorization issued under this section is void if the person's driver's license is suspended, revoked or canceled, or if the person's vehicle no longer meets the equipment standards set out in 13 AAC 04. A person must return the document granting authorization to the commissioner or the commissioner's designee if the person's driver's license is suspended, revoked or canceled or if the person's vehicle no longer meets the equipment standards set out in 13 AAC 04.