Stupid? Don't go to Arizona

| 3/7/2005

There’re laws against speeding, and laws against running red lights. We all expect things like that. But in Arizona, motorists now find themselves receiving something not often seen in the law books – a ticket for being just plain dumb.

It’s all thanks to Arizona’s “Stupid Motorist Law,” a measure passed almost 10 years ago.

Here, in a nutshell, is what the law says: If a road is covered in water, and it is blocked with barricades, and one of the barricades says “do not try to pass in high water,” or some other such obvious message, then don’t go there. If you do, and you get stuck, then you’ll get to pay for the police, fire, ambulance and other emergency folk who show up to haul your sorry backside out of the drink.

You might expect it to add a section for “bridge out” signs, but apparently even stupid people get that one.

Several media outlets have recently reported cases where motorists – one might assume stupid ones – have been cited under the law.

KVOA TV in Tucson, AZ, reported in late January that a 37-year-old woman was cited after she drove her Yukon into the Canyon Del Oro Wash, which, according to a local real estate Web site, drains the western range of the Catalina Mountains west to the Santa Cruz River.

The news crew watched one vehicle after another dive in, but the Yukon, carrying the woman and her two children, became mired in the mud. Complicating things, the station reported, the woman was paralyzed from the waist down.

Even worse, the woman was worried that law-enforcement officials on the scene would take away her children, The Arizona Daily Star reported. She held them off, locking the doors and rolling up the windows of her vehicle, until, after 15 minutes of negotiating, she finally allowed the rescue.

The woman was cited under the “Stupid Motorist Law,” and will apparently pay for at least part of the cost of the 20 rescue workers needed to pull her and her family out.

Another recent case involved a Scottsdale, AZ, man, who was convinced his Humvee was “made to float” and attempted to prove the point.

His theory – and his vehicle’s buoyancy – didn’t hold up.

Media outlets reported that the man made his attempt despite warnings from other motorists and police. He was ticketed by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.