Arizona legislator admits to deputy he’d been going 120 mph
PHOENIX — An Arizona legislator caught speeding and darting in and out of traffic reportedly told the deputy who stopped him that as a government official he had immunity from citations.
In a video posted Wednesday by ParkerLiveOnline, Rep. Paul Mosley (R-Lake Havasu City) boasted to an unidentified La Paz County Sheriff’s deputy that he had been going 120 mph earlier and that he’d even gone 140 mph before.
Mosley was pulled over March 27, after he was clocked going 97 mph in a 55-mph zone on a highway near Parker.
According to the website, the deputy’s written report said, “Mosley also told me that I should just let him go and that I shouldn’t waste anymore of my time dealing with him” because of legislative immunity, based on the state Constitution, Article IV, part 2, section 6:
Members of the legislature shall be privileged from arrest in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, and they shall not be subject to any civil process during the session of the legislature, nor for fifteen days next before the commencement of each session.
“I didn’t even notice I was going very fast, because you know, nice wheels,” Mosley said of the Lexus sedan he was driving.
While the state constitution does provide for certain kinds of legislative immunity, it’s generally intended for actions related to legislative acts. And a document from November 2002 shared by the House Rules Committee says speeding tickets – as well as violations for driving under the influence – aren’t covered.
Video from the deputy’s body camera picked up the encounter on the northbound shoulder of State Route 95 as the officer was returning Mosley’s driver’s license.
Earlier, the deputy asked, “You were driving 130 earlier, you said?”
“Yeah, I go 130, 140, 120. I come down I-10, I was going 120 almost, you know, if there was no traffic,” Mosley said, adding that he usually drove a Prius but it was being repaired.
The deputy asked, “… You just can, so you do?”
Mosley said he was rushing home to surprise his wife.
“Yeah I mean, I don’t, I don’t break the law because I can, but because I’m … just trying to get home.”
Mosley then asked the officer if he had ever sped. The deputy said, “I absolutely have, but not 130, 120, even in this thing,” he said, pointing to his patrol vehicle.
The incident is under review by Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre after the La Paz County Attorney Office referred the incident to avoid a potential conflict of interest. McIntyre said in a statement a complaint has not yet been filed.
“I do not believe the ethical rules permit me to say whether I intend to charge the matter or not, however,” McIntyre’s statement said. “I am able to say that it will be reviewed consistent with our ethical obligations and a charging decision will be made as time and resources permit.”
Mosley on Thursday posted an apology on his Facebook page, referring to the comments to the deputy as a joke.
“My desire to get home to see my family does not justify how fast I was speeding nor my reference to legislative immunity when being pulled over,” he said.
He said his comments to the deputy were inappropriate and showed bad judgment.
Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard said he was “disturbed” to see Mosley’s actions and doesn’t think the immunity provision would apply.
“Nothing short of an emergency justifies that kind of speeding, and assertions of immunity in that situation seem outside the intent of the constitutional provision regarding legislative immunity,” Mesnard said.
A search of court records in Arizona didn’t immediately turn up any traffic violations issued against Mosley.
Col. Frank Milstead of Arizona Department of Public Safety told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Friday that Mosley does not represent the majority of the state’s representatives in bragging about his immunity.
“People from all walks of life get stopped in traffic. Everyone speeds at some time in their life,” he said.
Mosley, a Republican from Lake Havasu City, was elected in 2016; he is running for another two-year term in November.
The Arizona Fraternal Order of Police rescinded its endorsement of Mosley and condemned his speeding.
“Rep. Mosley’s recklessness, his demeanor and his utter disregard for the safety of the public represent the exact opposite of what the Arizona Fraternal Order of Police looks for in an elected official,” the group’s president John Ortolano said in a statement.
“Potentially lethal speeding isn’t a joke. We will not stand with those who think it’s acceptable or funny to risk the lives of others while behind the wheel of a lethal weapon.”
The Legislature ended its session May 4.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.