East Cleveland, Ohio (CBS CLEVELAND) – An attorney representing the U.S. Postal Service is looking to get almost $700 in traffic tickets dismissed because Postal Service drivers have “immunity” from state and local laws.
A Jan. 22 letter addressed to the city of East Cleveland, Ohio and the company who runs the automated traffic cameras states that while the federal postal service is “proud to serve the many thousands of communities across the country,” it also “enjoys federal immunity from state and local regulation.”
The letter from Postal Service attorney Jennifer S. Breslin continues, “The Postal Service requires its employees to obey all traffic laws and rules while operating Postal Service vehicles and while operating a self-owned vehicle while conducting Postal Service business activities.”
But Breslin stated there was a catch: “However, the state and/or local ordinances imposing penalties and fines cannot be enforced as against the Postal Service, and there is no statutory basis for doing so. Accordingly, the Postal Service will not pay the civil penalties assessed against it in the above-referenced Notices of Liability.”
American Traffic Solutions (ATS) – the Arizona-based company that enforces East Cleveland’s camera citations – did not agree with Ms. Breslin’s legal stance on the two school-zone speeding citations and five red-light infractions committed by postal trucks in December.
“By attempting to hide behind an immunity claim, you are aiding and abetting your drivers in their blatant disregard for the traffic laws in East Cleveland, which have endangered other drivers, pedestrians and school children,” ATS attorney George Hittner wrote in his three-page response to Breslin, who received it on Thursday.
Hittner further stated that the Postal Service’s own safety manual indicated that postal truck drivers have been held accountable for identical infractions in the past. He also provided a few past examples where postal drivers were held accountable in high-profile cases.
“My last and favorite example is of the USPS truck driver delivering mail while naked,” Hittner wrote. “He was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior.”
Hittner concluded that the citations will not be waived: “We suggest that you transfer the liability for the infractions to the USPS drivers who incurred them, and instruct them that pursuant to Ohio law, as well as the USPS guidelines, the infractions are their responsibility. If you choose to ignore the infractions, penalties and fines will continue to accumulate.”
According to its website, the U.S. Postal Service has more than 27,500 offices nationwide and delivers more than 200 billion pieces of mail each year.