Tucson AZ Home Loan Info


Monsoon Flash Floods: Arizona Before The Stupid Motorist Law

Stupid Motorist Law: Mike in Tucson, AZ mortgage lender

"Don't worry, Ma.  I think we can make it with this newfangled automobile."

Stupid Motorist Law: Mike in Tucson, AZ mortgage lender


I was hiking in a "wash" near Saguaro National Park.  About a quarter mile down the wash from the paved road, I came upon this old car, half buried in the sand.

Someone thought that the summer monsoon flood running across the road wasn't all that dangerous, and he (don't you think it had to be a man?) gunned the accelerator and made for the other side.  Oops!

Flash flood danger
Today, Arizona has approximately 100 drownings per year, and more than half involve automobiles.  People move the signs and drive around them because, to their untrained eye, the water isn't very deep, and couldn't possibly present a danger.

It doesn't take more than a few inches of fast-flowing water to sweep a car off the road and down the wash. 

Stupid Motorist Law
As Arizona has become more populated, the problem of rescuing individuals has been offset by Arizona's "Stupid Motorist Law."  If you're stupid enough to go around the sign and drive into a flooded wash, you'll pay the cost of your own rescue, plus a hefty fine to go with the experience.

Today (June 15) is the official first day of the summer Monsoon season.  You only have one life.  Don't gamble it away.


I'm Mike in Tucson, your preferred Tucson Arizona Mortgage Lender.

NMLS #223495

SUNSTREET MORTGAGE LLC ~ Correspondent Mortgage Bank
Offices in Mesa, Tucson, Sierra Vista & Nogales

Comment balloon 31 commentsMike Jones • June 14 2011 11:31PM


Mike, I can remember my parents calling when you had heavy rains.  They would always tell me that the water had no place to go.

Posted by Marchel Peterson, Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro (Results Realty) over 9 years ago

I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Somebody passing a law against stupidity.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 9 years ago

Mike, before I moved to Arizona and just came here on vacation during "peak season", I used to laugh at the signs along the road.  Now, I know the force of the runoff from the mountains during the rains is immense and take these warnings seriously.  Great reminder.

Posted by Juli Vosmik, Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739 (Dominion Fine Properties) over 9 years ago


That's quite a visual reminder of just what can happen. Wonder how long ago that was? :)


Posted by Steve Hoffacker, Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Instructor (Steve Hoffacker LLC) over 9 years ago

Mike, that is a great law!  I like the idea of making them accept responsibility for their stupidity!

Posted by Tony & Darcy Cannon, The C Team (Aubrey and Associates Realty) over 9 years ago

Hi Mike - Flash floods are nothing to gamble with as my husband and I learned in Costa Rica. No stupid tourist laws there, though :-)

Posted by Karen Cooper, Helping Homeowners w/Home Loans in 27 US States (Karen Cooper | Sr Retail Loan Originator ! NMLS # 223305 | 360 Mortgage Group LLC Austin Texas) over 9 years ago


Sounds like there's a story there...

Tony & Darcy,

It's not cheap!  Here's a link.


I'm guessing that the car (what's left of it) was made in the 1930s, and parts of the wood and steel frame are still visible inside the passenger compartment.


Do you have any photos?

Stupid Motorist Law: Mike in Tucson, AZ mortgage lenderRobert,

The law, created in 1995, is Arizona traffic code Title 28-910, commonly called the "Stupid Motorist Law."  It allows local governments to recoup the cost of rescuing folks who disobey the signs.  You'll see video of people driving right on through anyway.  Sometimes they make the news when a helicoptor rescue is required...


The desert floor is composed of hard "caliche," and the water does not soak in like it does in the sandy soil I'm used to in NJ.  It flows across the desert, filling the washes, and creates flash floods as it rolls on downstream.

Thanks for being the first to comment!

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 9 years ago

I recall coming up on a railroad crossing with the barrier DOWN.  Yet, there was a line of cars driving around the barrier knowing that there was a train coming. 

Same STUPID drivers.

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 9 years ago


I heard a public service radio ad say that the average train weighs 12,000,000 pounds.  It's got the advantage.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) over 9 years ago

Hmm, I just read an article that 'explains' why they decided to pick a date instead of waiting until the monsoon really arrived.  Kinda lame...  


Posted by Doreen McPherson, Phoenix Arizona Real Estate ~ (Homesmart ~ Scottsdale ~ Tempe) over 9 years ago

I too like Lenn have seen them go around the barrier on train tracks. There is no law for them because most of the time they don't make it!

Posted by David O'Doherty, Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC (Raleigh Realty Inc) over 9 years ago
That is really interesting when you live in another area of the country. It makes sense.
Posted by Cheryl Ritchie, Southern Maryland 301-980-7566 (RE/MAX Leading Edge www.GoldenResults.com) over 9 years ago
Most people think they can make it until they get into the water. Never play with snake unless you want to be bitten.
Posted by Mike Yeo (3:16 team REALTY) over 9 years ago

Hi Mike, great pictures (as usual) and I would never have thought of your area as having any flash floods! Unfortunately a license to drive does not come with common sense...In Texas the saying goes, "turn around, don't drown"

Posted by Russell Lewis, Broker,CLHMS,GRI (Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Mike, thanks for a timely reminder.  When I was younger I did not realize how dangerous crossing a flooded road could be.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 9 years ago

great photo...I am sure there's a great story to go along with it...we'll probably never get to hear it though.  Too bad. Good post.

Posted by Anonymous over 9 years ago

I keep it simple for myself. Stay out of the water and I will be fine. Bring on the rain

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia III, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) over 9 years ago

It never amazes me when I see that laws are made to protect the stupidest people, but they never get the message, and/or just continue to be themselves.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 9 years ago

thanks for the great story and lesson. Rule 1 never drive through or over a flooded road. No matter what part of the country you live in, this still apllies

Posted by Scott Godzyk, One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents (Godzyk Real Estate Services) over 9 years ago

Oklahoma just passed a law that emergency services can charge for pulling people out after trying to cross high water areas.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 9 years ago

Mike - I for one think people should pay for doing stupid things, however, if we had that law here in Nashville, the police would find a way to write tickets to everyone just for being stupid. Here it's more about generating dollars than it is about making the roads safe.

Posted by Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc (Benchmark Realty LLc) over 9 years ago

They have this same type of law here in South Dakota. If you go around a blocked off road in a blizzard besides possibly freezing to death you could also be charged for your rescue. So nice to know every state has their own share of law breakers. 

Posted by Rosalie Evans, The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale (Meritus Group Real Estate) over 9 years ago

It is sometimes amazing how stupid the human being can be! We see it here too, with people driving through flooded streets during hurricane season, thinking their car can make it. Often the car is ruined and while the people generally don't loose their life, it is still a stupid and totally avoidable mistake!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) over 9 years ago

Good pics and a great point...The subject matter is deceiving...which is why it is so lethal...The word "flash" needs to be emphasized...It takes you out before you can argue about it.....Now, that's scary

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 9 years ago

That is just unbelievable that the car is still there. Obviously its really old I just cant believe it hasnt been pulled out and taken to a dump nearby.

Posted by Heritage Real Estate Group (Heritage Real Estate Group(DFW)) over 9 years ago

The thing about stupidity in these cases is that people think something bad won't happen to them, just somebody else.  Great law and great story!

Posted by Margaret Goss, Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate (Baird & Warner Real Estate) over 9 years ago

I've seen plenty of those knuckleheads, in person and on the evening news.  Best to watch those gorgeous monsoons from the comfort of your living room.

We could use more stupid motorist laws in this fine country, especially in California.  I suggest one for the knuckleheads with dogs sitting on their laps while they drive.

Posted by Anthony Daniels, SF Bay Area REO Specialist (Coldwell Banker) over 9 years ago

I like your state's new law. I went to ASU and I can remember saying to myself Darwin's Theory is kicking in again...have fun in the monsoons!!

Posted by Cory Barbee, Broker (760) 563-4022 over 9 years ago

Mike, you're right! It doesn't take much to hydroplane a car. I hope the monsoon's take care of the fire.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 9 years ago

Mike - I've driven through of few of those monsoons out there and let me tell you it's scary enough just to pull off the highway when those semis come barreling through.. Can't say I'd be stupid enough to go off roading though.. geez...

Posted by Robert and Lisa Hammerstein -201-315-8618, Bergen County NJ Real Estate (Christie's International Real Estate ) over 9 years ago

Even with that law and all the publicity it gets, every year we see new stupid motorists.  Being in AZ since 1986, I have seen my share of flash floods and vehicles stuck or rescued.  Glad to see that our tax dollars are now being recouped from these expenditures, there will always be someone who thinks they can get one over on Mother Nature.

Posted by Shane Cook, Residential and Commercial Realtor (My Home Group) over 9 years ago

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