What is the 'Stupid Motorist Law'? - Tucson News Now

What is the 'Stupid Motorist Law'?

Posted: Updated:

Many of us have heard about the 'Stupid Motorist Law'.

I know the basic theory of the law, but the exact wording was not something I had looked into recently. 

I decided to post what the law says because of this See It, Snap It, Send It video

In the video two trucks barely pause before driving through water flowing over Houghton Road Thursday morning.  

The second truck with the trailer appears to drift downstream. 

It is unclear if the driver steered to the left or was pushed downstream by the fast moving water. 

The nickname 'Stupid Motorist Law' was given to section 28-910 of the Arizona Revised Statutes

It basically says if the driver of a vehicle goes around a barricade closing a road due to high water, that person will pay for their rescue if they get stuck in the wash and emergency personnel needs to get them out safely.

Because there were no barricades blocking the road through the flooded wash crossed by the two truck drivers, even if the drivers needed rescuing they would not have been charged. 

To my knowledge, no one has been charged with Stupid Motorist Law. 

The complete wording is below:

28-910. Liability for emergency responses in flood areas; definitions

A. A driver of a vehicle who drives the vehicle on a public street or highway that is temporarily covered by a rise in water level, including groundwater or overflow of water, and that is barricaded because of flooding is liable for the expenses of any emergency response that is required to remove from the public street or highway the driver or any passenger in the vehicle that becomes inoperable on the public street or highway or the vehicle that becomes inoperable on the public street or highway, or both.

B. A person convicted of violating section 28-693 for driving a vehicle into any area that is temporarily covered by a rise in water level, including groundwater or overflow of water, may be liable for expenses of any emergency response that is required to remove from the area the driver or any passenger in the vehicle that becomes inoperable in the area or the vehicle that becomes inoperable in the area, or both.

C. The expenses of an emergency response are a charge against the person liable for those expenses pursuant to subsection A or B of this section. The charge constitutes a debt of that person and may be collected proportionately by the public agencies, for-profit entities or not-for-profit entities that incurred the expenses. The person's liability for the expenses of an emergency response shall not exceed two thousand dollars for a single incident. The liability imposed under this section is in addition to and not in limitation of any other liability that may be imposed.

D. An insurance policy may exclude coverage for a person's liability for expenses of an emergency response under this section.

E. For the purposes of this section:

1. "Expenses of an emergency response" means reasonable costs directly incurred by public agencies, for-profit entities or not-for-profit entities that make an appropriate emergency response to an incident.

2. "Public agency" means this state and any city, county, municipal corporation, district or other public authority that is located in whole or in part in this state and that provides police, fire fighting, medical or other emergency services.

3. "Reasonable costs" includes the costs of providing police, fire fighting, rescue and emergency medical services at the scene of an incident and the salaries of the persons who respond to the incident but does not include charges assessed by an ambulance service that is regulated pursuant to title 36, chapter 21.1, article 2.

Powered by WorldNow