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Old 03 February 2013, 01:12 AM
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Police Postal Service lawyer claims immunity from traffic laws

Jennifer Breslin, senior litigation counsel for the Postal Service, is attempting to get dismissed almost $700 in traffic tickets given to USPS employees in East Cleveland, claiming the service is immune from state and local regulations.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/n...-laws/1885995/
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Old 03 February 2013, 01:34 AM
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Shades of one of my favourite ULs.

Given this quote:
Quote:
"In providing mail service across the country, the Postal Service attempts to work within local and state laws and regulations, when feasible,"
I'm curious to know when stopping at a red light near a school zone isn't "feasible" for a postal truck. I mean, I can understand having to ignore parking regulations in the execution of deliveries given the right conditions, but who needs their LL Bean catalogue that quickly?
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Old 03 February 2013, 01:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mateus View Post
Shades of one of
I'm curious to know when stopping at a red light near a school zone isn't "feasible" for a postal truck. I mean, I can understand having to ignore parking regulations in the execution of deliveries given the right conditions, but who needs their LL Bean catalogue that quickly?
No one. Especially at the expense of school children, or other pedestrians in crosswalks. I mean, I used to be a delivery driver for a blue print company, and there were times I had to park in odd spaces, and I bet postal drivers do too. But speeding and running red lights? More like pushing the boundaries because "they can".
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Old 03 February 2013, 01:56 AM
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As I understand it, the real legal issue here is not, as some people have claimed, that USPS drivers are exempt from traffic laws. My understanding of the issue is that liability for a red light camera ticket is assigned to the owner of the vehicle, and since USPS mail carriers are employees who are driving company vehicles, the liability for traffic tickets they generate is being assigned to the USPS itself rather than the individual drivers. The USPS is claiming that the USPS as an entity is not subject to local regulation and therefore does not have to pay the fines.

The company operating the traffic cameras, however, is claiming that the USPS's immunity from local regulation does not extend to its employees, and therefore the USPS should transfer liability for the traffic fines to the drivers who committed the violations:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/123368511/...-ticket-tussle
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Old 03 February 2013, 02:11 AM
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Quote:
Rather than asserting immunity and demonstrating to its employees and the public that USPS postal carriers can drive recklessly without penalty, the USPS would be better served to simply transfer liability to the driver committing the violation sothat the employee may take personal responsibility, as the City of East Cleveland ordinance contemplates.
But I don't think they can drive recklessly without penalty. I think real police officers are still allowed to stop them if they see the violation and give them real, binding traffic tickets. (AFAIK, camera "tickets" in Ohio are just requests. At least they were in my town. The city has to go one step further and sue you in a civil court before you're obligated to respond in any way.)

Last edited by lord_feldon; 03 February 2013 at 02:18 AM.
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Old 03 February 2013, 05:32 AM
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Quote:
The company operating the traffic cameras, however, is claiming that the USPS's immunity from local regulation does not extend to its employees, and therefore the USPS should transfer liability for the traffic fines to the drivers who committed the violations
Thanks for the clarification; and from ATS' letter, it sounds like this is something that has been decided judicially (IANAL)

As an aside, from ATS' letter:

Quote:
My last and favorite example is of the USPS truck driver delivering mail while naked. He was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior.
I don't know whether to or
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  #7  
Old 03 February 2013, 05:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lord_feldon View Post
(AFAIK, camera "tickets" in Ohio are just requests. At least they were in my town. The city has to go one step further and sue you in a civil court before you're obligated to respond in any way.)
East Cleveland has it set up differently. There, doing nothing is "considered an admission" according to the badly-scanned ordinance. ATS must sell stricter laws to its customers than RedFlex does.
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Old 03 February 2013, 07:08 AM
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From the OP:
Quote:
He added that there is no legal system in place to transfer liability from the Postal Service to an employee, an issue because these tickets were the result of traffic cameras, not police stops with tickets handed to individuals.
But lord_feldon's .pdf link above shows that the ticket is issued to the owner of the vehicle, and constitutes prima facie evidence that the owner was the operator of the vehicle unless the owner provides an affidavit to the hearing officer stating who was operating the vehicle at the time. (Section (c)(4)). So it's more like the Postal Service is saying that they can't be bothered to respond to the tickets. It is a bit weird though--obviously a commercial/institutional owner can't have literally been the driver of the vehicle, but there isn't a provision to specifically deal with that.

It appears to be true though that there isn't any way to hold the actual drivers accountable for the violations when the tickets are issued to the Postal Service itself. (The affidavit is supposed to have the name and address of the person who had care and control of the vehicle at the time, but I don't see anything in the law that would lead to a ticket being sent to that person.)
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Old 05 February 2013, 04:03 PM
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The article states
Quote:
the Postal Service cannot legally be billed for any traffic violation fines incurred by its employees."

He added that there is no legal system in place to transfer liability from the Postal Service to an employee, an issue because these tickets were the result of traffic cameras, not police stops with tickets handed to individuals
So it looks like the issue is that USPS cannot throw it's drivers under the bus.

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Old 06 February 2013, 03:58 AM
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Quote:
So it looks like the issue is that USPS cannot throw it's drivers under the bus.
Incorrect. An employer may forbid its employees to drive, based on tickets or accidents with their own vehicles. And FWIW, employees ARE required to pay tickets. I worked for the Gov't in a prior life. You couldn't get by with a rock chipping your windshield without a consult or reprimand.

Damage to (or misuse of ) government property is very serious, and there should be consequences regarding the drivers.

Of course, they are STILL the first vehicle to cross at a stopsign, no matter what... :P
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Old 06 February 2013, 04:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hambubba View Post
And FWIW, employees ARE required to pay tickets.
But these aren't their tickets. Is it legal to force employees to pay tickets that are issued to some other entity?
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Old 06 February 2013, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hambubba View Post
You couldn't get by with a rock chipping your windshield without a consult or reprimand. Damage to (or misuse of ) government property is very serious, and there should be consequences regarding the drivers.

I am not sure how a rock chip is the necessarily the fault of the driver, unless it can be shown that the driver was tailgating a leaking gravel truck.

We replaced several windshields a year due to rock chips and sand erosion and it simply is the cost of operating the vehicles.

I don't see that I'd ever reprimand our drivers over this. Am I missing something?
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Old 06 February 2013, 01:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lord_feldon View Post
But these aren't their tickets. Is it legal to force employees to pay tickets that are issued to some other entity?
Exactly, this is the crux of the case. The tickets were issued to the USPS, not the drivers. The Postal Service may know which driver drove which truck on which day and they may reprimand them, but they cannot make them pay a fine that is not in their name.
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Old 06 February 2013, 01:21 PM
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They can't because their contract won't let them or they can't period because it is illegal to make an employee pay for a ticket they are responsible for? Or is it a matter of proving which employee was driving at the time?
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Old 06 February 2013, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GenYus234 View Post
They can't because their contract won't let them or they can't period because it is illegal to make an employee pay for a ticket they are responsible for? Or is it a matter of proving which employee was driving at the time?
The OP does not say. But from my handling of legal documents (though IANAL) I would say it is because the name on the ticket is not the name of the employee. When I had documents served, I had to ensure I was writing the correct name on them and had to prepare a new document if I had gotten it wrong.
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Old 06 February 2013, 05:33 PM
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Don't rental car companies pass (or attempt to pass) any ticket issues back to the renter?

How is this different from the USPS situation?

Or is it something in the rental contract that obligates the renter?

Last edited by UrbanLegends101; 06 February 2013 at 05:33 PM. Reason: adding contract
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Old 06 February 2013, 10:30 PM
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http://www.nalc.org/depart/cau/pdf/manuals/el814.pdf

Quote:
(X)B. Civil Laws
 You must obey all state and Iocal traffic laws when
driving any Postal Service vehicle. You will receive no
special privileges or rights as a postal driver. Police
citations for traffic violations are your personal responsibility.
Promptly report them to your supervisor while
on duty.
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Old 06 February 2013, 10:32 PM
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But they didn't receive police citations. And since they didn't receive them, they're not receiving any special privileges or rights and they can't report them.

Last edited by lord_feldon; 06 February 2013 at 10:37 PM.
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  #19  
Old 06 February 2013, 10:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alarm View Post
The tickets were issued to the USPS, not the drivers. The Postal Service may know which driver drove which truck on which day and they may reprimand them, but they cannot make them pay a fine that is not in their name.
I'm not sure whether the issue is really that the USPS cannot transfer liability for the tickets to the drivers, rather than that they can't be compelled to do so. The letter from ATS says:

Quote:
Here, the East Cleveland ordinance establishing its photo enforcement program imposes liability for red-light violations on the owner of the vehicle. Pursuant to the statute, the owner of the vehicle may transfer liability to the operator of the vehicle by providing an affidavit identifying the operator.
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Old 07 February 2013, 12:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alarm View Post
Exactly, this is the crux of the case. The tickets were issued to the USPS, not the drivers. The Postal Service may know which driver drove which truck on which day and they may reprimand them, but they cannot make them pay a fine that is not in their name.
But the USPS doesn't have to pay the fine either. According to the ordinance, they just have to provide an affidavit stating who was driving the vehicle at the time. (As I posted above your post). And there's no provision in the ordinance for the driver to have to pay anything. It seems that the USPS is arguing that it should not have to respond at all though--they don't want to expend resources on filling out affidavits about their drivers, I guess, or they missed the deadlines and don't want to pay the fines anyway perhaps.

It seems like the ordinance works similarly to the one here--if the registered owner wasn't the driver, they can fill out a statement to that effect. The form asks you to provide the info for the person who was driving, but for our ordinance it's not required. The form says that if you name the driver they will be sent a warning, not a ticket. There's no provision in either law as far as I can see for sending the named person a ticket.

ETA: Based on my reading of the ordinance, I think it's true that USPS can't transfer liability to its drivers, in that naming them will not make them liable. But USPS can essentially transfer liability off of themselves by naming the drivers. By doing so, the liability just disappears because there isn't a provision for holding the drivers liable. USPS is arguing that they shouldn't have to do that step, and are just not liable in the first place.
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