USPS Attorney Claims Postal Service Immune to Traffic Tickets
No One is Immune to Traffic Tickets, but on January 22, Jennifer S. Breslin, an attorney for the Postal Service, sent a letter to the city of East Cleveland, OH and American Traffic Solutions, the company that runs East Cleveland’s traffic cameras. In the letter, she claims that the Postal Service is not responsible for payment of almost $700 in fines related to seven different citations received by postal employees in December 2012. Two of these were for speeding in a school zone and five were related to traffic cameras. Breslin cites the United States Constitution and the Postal Reorganization Act of 1971 which establishes the USPS as “an independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States.” From this, she extracts the idea that “state and/or local ordinances imposing penalties and fines cannot be enforced as against the Postal Service.”
No One is Immune to Traffic Tickets
An outright refusal to pay for the offences is absurd because No One is Immune to Traffic Tickets. The Postal Service does not in fact “enjoy federal immunity from state and local regulation,” as Breslin wrote, insofar as it can deny responsibility for obeying traffic laws and paying due fines when said laws are broken. East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton jokingly commented, “I was unaware that the Post Office doesn’t have to stop at red lights or obey the speed limit. But since they are [immune], I wish I’d get my mail faster.”
In a response to Breslin, American Traffic Solutions attorney George Hittner said, “By attempting to hide behind an immunity claim, you are aiding and abetting your drivers in their blatant disregard for the traffic laws of East Cleveland, which have endangered the lives of other drivers, pedestrians, and school children.” Hittner suggested the USPS transfer liability for payment of the fines to the individual drivers. He provided examples from well-known cases where postal workers were held responsible for breaking the law, one example being a driver who was arrested for ‘lewd and lascivious behavior’ after delivering mail in the buff.
Regional spokesperson for the USPS, David Van Allen, said No One is Immune to Traffic Tickets and that no legal system exists to transfer liability from the Service to an employee, but Norton begs to differ, claiming that the RTA in East Cleveland recently made a driver responsible for a citation and the driver paid it. If Breslin meant only that the Postal Service itself could not be charged with fines then, so be it; subsequently, employees will be individually fined. But instead of giving up employees, the Service tried to dodge the fines altogether, and this is where their choice of action seems shady. The Postal Service driver’s manual states: “Observe all traffic regulations prescribed by law. Rules applying to the public also apply to operators of postal vehicles.” How then is there no way to transfer liability to individual drivers? Did we miss something? Sounds like the USPS just wanted to flaunt its federal status. Embarrassingly, however, the service may need to keep that cash handy; they reported a $15.9 billion annual loss in November. Remember that No One is Immune to Traffic Tickets.