Police cracking down on drivers

Published 6:05 pm Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Washington residents have been warned: driving on flooded streets is considered careless and reckless driving, and punishable by law.

Because of Washington’s location on the water, flooded streets are a concern for city officials as well as police officers.

At the closing of the Monday’s Washington City Council meeting, Councilman William Pitt read a warning to residents about driving on flooded streets.

This issue was raised after the June 13 thunderstorm, which dropped between five and six inches of rain on Washington that flooded many streets. Washington Police blocked intersections from Third Street to 15th Street to keep motorist from driving into deep water.

Pitt said he received numerous phone calls from residents concerned about the issue, and he wanted to read the city’s law for people’s knowledge.

Washington Police can issue a citation up to $500 for driving on flooded streets. Careless and reckless driving carries a mandatory court appearance, a possible six-month prison sentence and four points on the ticketed driver’s license.

“This is in place to protect business and home owners from water splashing, and drivers as well,” Pitt said. “This is enforced when officers are there and see it before they can put barricades up.”

The careless and reckless driving citation means a driver is deliberately driving through a flooded roadway.

“Most of the time the police get somebody out there to put barricades up because we are a low-lying city,” Pitt said. “I wanted to make everybody aware that there are consequences for driving in water.”

City officials said there are many routes to take to get around Washington without driving on a flooded street.

“People have the mind set that if they have gone straight because that’s how they have always gone,” Pitt said. “We want to protect property owners and citizens. When the citizens go out and get in the water it gets to overwhelming for your car and that involves bringing public safety out and puts them at risk.”

The city says flood damage from cars splashing buildings that are already flooded, wash away soil in yards and damage shrubbery.

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