The law states that any motorist who becomes stranded after driving through or around barricades to enter any flooded roadway may be charged for the cost of rescue.
The bus driver attempted to cross a road that had been severely flooded as a result of heavy rainstorms. The bus was swept away and floated 300 yards off the roadway and then rolled onto its side. Passengers exited through bus windows and made it safely to dry land until emergency crews arrived at the scene. The location was remote, and as a result it took crews some time to reach the passengers of the overturned bus.
The ‘Stupid Motorist Law’ was enacted because of the lack of storm sewers in the desert, especially in areas where there is heavy rainfall during summer monsoon seasons. The lack of sewage results in excessive flooding over roadway runoffs, in washes and through underpasses. Many of these floods have been known to wash away vehicles and leave drivers stranded and in danger. In such cases, emergency crews are dispatched to rescue the motorist(s), and the cost of these services can reach up to $2,000 or more.
Under the ‘Stupid Motorist Law,’ any driver that proceeds onto a public street or highway that is covered by a risen water level is liable for the expense of emergency response and rescue required to remove the driver and passengers from any inoperable vehicle. Drivers that have found themselves under question of breaking this law should contact a defense attorney immediately.
It was confirmed that the driver of the bus should not have been driving in this particular area because a flash flood warning had previously been issued for that roadway. The company that the driver is employed through claims that they and the driver himself were unaware of these warnings and there were no barricades or warnings signs in the area at the time of the flood.
There are two ways that a driver can be liable for the cost of rescue efforts. The first is if the driver purposefully goes around barricades that were meant to block a flooded area. The second is if the driver is charged with reckless driving and going into a flooded area, even if there are no barricades around the area.
If you are in need of legal representation or have more questions about the Arizona ‘Stupid Motorist Law,’ contact a Phoenix criminal defense attorney at Thrush Law Group for more information and protection in your case.