Skip to main content

In rainy seasons, like April for much of the United States, floods are a potentially lethal hazard. However, only some take the danger seriously. Consequently, those folks might insist on dispensing with personal safety and driving through flood waters. So, is driving in floods illegal or just a bit daft?

Driving through flood waters might not be illegal in most circumstances, but it’s not smart to ignore weather advisories

No, it’s not illegal to drive through flood waters in circumstances of heavy rains and flash flooding. After all, in Texas and other states with drainage ill-prepared for flash flooding, you can quickly find yourself fording through inches of water on the road surface. 

However, driving in floods or flooded roadways is never as safe as postponing your errands or appointments. For instance, driving at speed in heavy rain can quickly turn into a hydroplaning and a resultant crash. Still, even with the dangers of driving through flood waters, the act itself isn’t illegal. Authorities understand that life can’t stop because of the weather.

That said, there are a few circumstances where driving in floods could land you in trouble with the police. For instance, if authorities know that a road or trail is dangerous in inclement weather, they may close it. So, if you choose to drive around barriers, you’re doing more than risking your life and your occupants’ safety; you’re breaking the law. 

A group of Florida motorists drive through flood waters.
A flooded road in Florida | Wirestock via iStock

What’s more, some states have specific laws devoted to drivers who refuse to respect road closures. You can’t make this stuff up; there is a “Stupid Motorist Law” in Arizona for this exact reason. In the Stupid Motorist Law, part of the 28-910 group of Arizona statutes, a driver could be criminally liable for getting stuck after driving around flood barriers or road closure signs.

Frankly, it makes some sense. In the event of inclement weather like heavy rains, emergency services are dealing with motor vehicle accidents (MVAs), felled trees, downed power lines, and other issues. Getting stuck in your vehicle because you ignored road closure signs diverts vital services from the public. I mean, saving lives in floods is the reason behind the National Weather Service’s (NWS’s) “Turn Around Don’t Drown” informational campaign.