County Attorney Andrew Thomas won't criminally prosecutete speeders based solely on speed camera photos.
At a press conference Monday, Thomas said the statutes clearly states the speed cameras are for civil fines only.
"In photo radar cases there are no witnesses, and defendants are not permitted to confront their accuser," Thomas said at the press conference. "There is no opportunity to question or cross-examine a camera."
Speeds 20 mph or more over the posted limit can be criminally prosecuted and may result in jail time. Often it is up to the discretion of the officer writing the citation. Thomas said the Department of Public Safety has sent a handful of photo enforcement cases to his office for criminal prosecution, which he says he won't do.
"The language of the statute indicates photo radar was intended for civil fines only, not for prosecution of alleged criminal charges," said Thomas in a written statement.
The change in policy does not mean that people issued a photo enforcement civil citation for speeding can ignore the fine. The law is clear that civil speeding citations issued because of photo enforcement are enforceable.
DPS officials were initially surprised by the decision and later said they would meet with the Arizona Attorney General's Office before making any comment.
Last week DPS touted the effectiveness of photo enforcement, saying that in the last three months of 2008, with photo enforcement in full force, fatal crashes were reduce to 12, down from 21 during the same period in 2007.
They also announced the arrest of three speeders, based on photo enforcement, and issued charges of reckless driving and criminal speeding for speeds ranging from 100 to 121 mph.
These cases are apparently the ones that Thomas was referring to when he said a handful of cases had been sent to his office for prosecution.
It's not clear what will happen to the three people DPS specificaly mentioned in last week's press release.
Thomas said that if the Legislature wants him to criminally prosecute speeders, it will have to change the law.