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Would a stupid hiker law stand up in an Arizona court?

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PHOENIX — Arizona already has a stupid motorist law. It requires some drivers who endanger themselves by making a poor decision — think driving into a flooded wash — to foot the bill for their rescue.

There’s been discussion of creating a similar law for hikers. Basically, those who get stuck on a trail may have made a potentially fatal — not just expensive — error.

KTAR legal analyst Monica Lindstrom said she thinks a stupid hiker law would stand up in an Arizona courtroom.

“If a stupid hiker law was patterned after a stupid motorist law, it likely would have no challenges in court,” she said.

Lindstrom said some nearby states, such as Colorado, have a similar law.

“Some of those states have created SAR card programs, which stands for Search and Rescue,” she said. “Those programs are supposed to be able to help with paying for those rescue charges.”

Should such a law be implemented in Arizona, it could have an interesting consequence: hiker’s insurance.

“If we have laws that pass that punish hikers when they have to be rescued, and they have to turn around and pay their bill, then we might see more of a push towards insurance companies offering this type of policy,” Lindstrom said.

But until such a law is passed, hikers will have full access to trails.

Last week, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation board rejected a proposal to ban hiking in extreme heat. However, it came with a caveat: Hikers will not be able to take their dogs on trails once the mercury hits 100 degrees during a three-month trial period.

The city is now asking Valley hotel and resort workers to inform guests of the dangers of hiking in the heat.

Phoenix posted a video to YouTube that instructs those employees to check on guests who have left for a hike as many as three times.

The video also includes some essential hiking tips.

“Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, sometimes long-sleeved shirts, definitely a cell phone,” park ranger Mike Sirota said in the video, listing the gear hikers should have with them.

KTAR’s Kathy Cline contributed to this report.

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