Stupid Motorist Law
The “Stupid Motorist Law”, which corresponds to section 28-910 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, states that any motorist who becomes stranded after driving around barricades to enter a flooded stretch of roadway may be charged for the cost of his/her rescue.
The need for the law came from the lack of storm sewers in the deserts of the Southwestern United States, combined with heavy rainfall in the desert, usually associated with the summer monsoon season. This lack of adequate drainage leads to short term flooding. Many desert cities and towns do not use culverts to channel minor washes (also known by the Spanish name arroyos) beneath the roadway. Only major washes and floodplains have bridges over them. Storm drains, when they are present at all, are spaced quite far apart. Consequently, during rain storms, storm runoff flows over the roadway. During severe rain storms, the washes, underpasses, and areas around large storm drains can flow fast and deep enough to pick up an automobile and carry it downstream. During particularly strong floods, one might see a motorist stuck in a middle of a wash, sitting on the roof of a dead car submerged to the windows.
In such cases, if public emergency services (such as a fire department, or paramedics) are called to rescue the motorist and tow the vehicle out of danger, the cost of those services can be billed to the motorist, plus additional liability of up to $2,000.
- Statute 28-910 Liability for emergency responses in flood areas
- So-Called ‘Stupid Motorist Law’ Not Being Used In Pima County, KOLD News
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