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Neither rain, nor sleet, nor traffic tickets? USPS caught in citation scandal

The United States Postal Service has been in the news off and on over the last year due to its proposed budget cuts and the possibility of eliminating mail delivery on Saturdays. However, the federal agency really grabbed headlines last month after claiming that its employees were somehow immune from traffic violations.

Last month, multiple news outlets published a letter written by a USPS attorney to the city of East Cleveland, Ohio, and American Traffic Solutions, the company in charge of enforcing traffic camera infractions for the city.

The letter concerned seven traffic citations -- two for speeding in a school zone and five for running a red light -- issued to postal trucks in December 2012. Here, the attorney indicated in no uncertain terms that the traffic tickets, which totaled $700, should be dismissed altogether.

The reason?

According to the attorney, USPS carriers evidently enjoyed immunity from vehicle traffic laws.

"In providing mail service across the country, the Postal Service attempts to work within local and state laws and regulations, when feasible," read the letter. "However, as you are probably aware, the Postal Service enjoys federal immunity from state and local regulation."

Not surprisingly, the letter not only outraged the city of East Cleveland and ATS, but the general populace as well.

In recent developments, the USPS attorney sent yet another letter to the aforementioned parties earlier this week apologizing for any misunderstanding and attempting to clarify the position of the agency.

"The message I intended to convey is simply that the Postal Service cannot be issued a citation and assessed related penalties for traffic violations of its individual employees," read the follow-up letter. "As stated in my prior letter, the local ordinance allowing vehicle owners to transfer liability cannot and does not override the federal laws and contracts that govern the Postal Service."

A USPS spokesperson indicated that they are currently reviewing the films, and will soon be handing over the names of the individual mail truck drivers depicted speeding and running red lights so that the proper traffic tickets can be issued.

It is worth noting, however, that some experts are wondering whether the tickets can actually be issued fairly due to the fact that drivers change mail trucks so often and the schedules may not accurately reflect who was driving on a particular day.

Stay tuned for updates from our New York vehicle traffic law blog ...

If you have been issued a traffic violation, fight to keep your driving privileges and your insurance premiums as low as possible. Consider contacting an attorney who understands New York's confusing legal system, and who can help you evaluate your options and make the right decisions.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Sources:

Yahoo News!, "Postal service puts blame on carriers in traffic ticket dispute," Jason Sickles, March 21, 2013

Yahoo News!, "Postal Service says its immune for local traffic laws," Jason Sickles, Feb. 1, 2013

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