The microstructural, electrical and optical properties of GaN/InGaN light emitting diodes (LEDs) with various material quality grown on sapphire have been studied. Burger's vector analyses showed that edge and mixed dislocations were the most common dislocations in these samples. In defective devices, a large number of surface pits and V-defects were present, which were found to be largely associated with mixed or screw dislocations. Tunneling behavior dominated throughout all injection regimes in these devices. The I-V characteristics at the moderate forward biases can be described by I = I0 exp (eV/E), where the energy parameter E has a temperature-independent value in the range of 70 -110 meV. Deep level states-associated emission has been observed, which is direct evidence of carrier tunneling to these states. Light output was found to be approximately current-squared dependent even at high currents, indicating nonradiative recombination through deep-lying states in the space-charge region. In contrast, dislocation bending was observed in a high quality device, which substantially reduced the density of the mixed and screw dislocations reaching the active layer. The defect-assisted tunneling was substantially suppressed in this LED device. Both forward and reverse I-V characteristics showed high temperature sensitivity, and current transport was diffusion-recombination limited. Light output of the LED became linear with the forward current at a current density as low as 1.4x10-2 A/cm2, where the nonradiative recombination centers in the InGaN active region were essentially saturated. This low saturation level suggests optical inactivity of the edge dislocations in this LED.