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Lawmaker caught driving 97 mph told deputy he had ‘immunity.’ Was he right?

Arizona state Rep. Paul Mosley speaks to a deputy about how fast he says he sometimes goes in his car.
Arizona state Rep. Paul Mosley speaks to a deputy about how fast he says he sometimes goes in his car. ParkerLive Video/Screenshot

An Arizona lawmaker is in hot water after video surfaced of him boasting to a deputy about driving his car as fast as 140 mph — and then allegedly claiming “immunity” from citation, according to ParkerLive.

The site obtained part of the deputy’s bodycam video through a public information request.

Paul Mosley, a Republican state representative from Lake Havasu City, was pulled over on March 27 after a deputy caught him allegedly going 97 mph through La Paz County in a 55 mph zone, according to ParkerLive. When the deputy approached, Mosley allegedly showed him a placard identifying him as an elected state representative, and then told the deputy he had legislative immunity, according to the site.

The video shows the deputy returning to the vehicle and speaking with Mosley through the passenger side window. The deputy hands back Mosley’s identification.

“Please watch your speed regardless of trying to get home. 97 is absolute...”

“Well, I was doing 120 earlier.”

“Really?”

“Yeah this goes 140, that’s what I like about it,” Mosley says, smiling.

Mosley talks about his other car, a Prius, for a few moments, before the deputy asks, “You were going 130 earlier, you said?”

“Yeah I go 130, 140, 120 ... you know if there was no traffic.”

The baffled deputy asks: “The purpose? You just can, so you do?”

“Well no, it’s like, I’m trying to surprise my wife ... as long as its safe ... Yeah I mean, I don’t break the law because I can, but because I, you know, I’m just trying to get home.”

“OK, well, your logic is flawed for me, I see too many accidents. That’s not safe.”

“And you’ve never sped in your life, I’m sure,” Mosley responds.

“Anyways, I’m not going to lecture you,” the deputy later says. “You have a good day, sir.”

The La Paz County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement after the video became public that the deputy “acted properly during the traffic stop” and forwarded the incident to the county attorney’s office for review.

News of Mosley’s behavior sparked a wave of criticism from public officials and others. The Arizona Fraternal Order of Police announced that it was pulling its primary endorsement of Mosley, who is running for re-election in his district.

“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,” John Ortolano, president of the organization, said in a statement on Facebook. “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.”

House Speaker J.D. Mesnard called the incident disturbing, according to ABC 15.

“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,” he said, according to the station.

Arizona state law says that lawmakers “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.”

The session was ongoing at the time of the stop.

Joe Kanefield, a constitutional lawyer at Ballard Spahr in Phoenix, told the Arizona Republic the law was not a “get out of jail free card” and said the immunity only delays civil procedures until after the session. “It’s pretty narrow, narrower than most legislators would want it to be,” another lawyer, Kory Langhofer, told the paper

The Arizona Legislative Manual also specifies that the statute “applies to all types of legislative actions relating to introducing, developing and voting for legislation.”

Mosley issued an apology on his Facebook page Thursday.

“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. Legislative immunity is a serious responsibility and should not be taken lightly or abused,” he wrote.

“In addition, my jokes about frequently driving over 100 miles per hour during my 3-hour commute to and from the capitol were entirely inappropriate and showed extremely bad judgement on my part, for which I am truly sorry. I have no excuse for any of this, only regret of my actions, a hope for forgiveness and a commitment that it will not happen again.”

State College police Lt. Barrett Smith talks about the current system that local officers use to track a driver's speed.

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