Speed Cameras Still Resulting in Arrests in Maricopa County for 100-mph-Plus Drivers

Maricopa County motorists caught doing more than 100 mph by freeway speed cameras continue to be tracked down and arrested, even though it's a certainty they won't be prosecuted.

County Attorney Andrew Thomas (pictured) announced late last month that he believes the law doesn't support prosecuting such cases, and he's apparently stuck to his word.

That hasn't stopped the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which runs the country's only statewide photo enforcement program on freeways and highways, from busting "super-speeders."

In fact, says DPS Lt. Jim Warriner, just a few days ago the agency took a motorist into custody who was caught by a freeway camera doing 130 mph.

Warriner didn't have full details on the case last night when we chatted with him on the phone, but he says DPS has arrested and booked into jail several "super-speeders," (drivers zooming over 100 mph), since Thomas' pronouncement. Troopers usually arrest the suspected photo enforcement violators at their home or workplace, he says.

Thing is, these folks are getting booked -- but no one's throwing the book at them.

And sets up an interesting legal conflict: Is it really kosher for a law enforcement agency to keep arresting people when the county's top prosecutor won't press charges for the crime?

"Yes," says Warriner. That's because DPS is a state agency, ultimately answering to the state's top prosecutor. And state Attorney General Terry Goddard (pictured below) says 100-mph-speeders can be prosecuted.

In fact, Warriner says, prosecutions of super-speeders are going along just fine in Arizona's 14 other counties.

From a legal perspective, the conflict shifts the responsibility for these speeders from DPS to Andrew Thomas' office.

"We're doing our job," says Warriner.

The 130-mph Dale Earnhardt wanna-be busted late last week was the second person caught on camera doing that speed, Warriner says.

Hmmm, imagine what would happen if one of these leadfoots Thomas isn't prosecuting kills someone in a speeding-related collision just days after being arrested DPS...

Gentlemen, start your lawsuits.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.