"I was unaware that the post office doesn't have to stop at red lights or obey the speed limit," East Cleveland's mayor said. "But since they are, I wish I'd get my mail faster."
A lawyer's claim that the U.S. Postal Service is immune from state and local traffic regulations has angered traffic officials who are now writing their own version of the post office creed.
"Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, nor traffic lights stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed routes," writes George Hittner, general counsel for American Traffic Solutions (ATS), who rejected the lawyer's claim.
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.
The tickets were received for running red lights in school zones, ATS reports.
"In providing mail service across the country, the Postal Service attempts to work within local and state laws and regulations, when feasible," Breslin wrote in response to a summons for payment. "However, as you are probably aware, the Postal Service enjoys federal immunity from state and local regulation."
The USPS Employee Safety Guide states employees will "receive no special privileges or rights as a postal driver."
David Van Allen, regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service, said in an interview that postal employees "are subject to obeying local traffic laws and ordinances just like any other citizen. However, 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.
American Traffic Solutions responded saying it was surprised to receive such a letter from USPS and provided a examples where postal workers were held accountable for breaking the law in high-profile cases.
"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," Hittner said in a response to Breslin. "It is disturbing, to say the least, to think that the USPS would not only permit but actually assist its employees to avoid personal responsibility by attempting to shield them with an assertion of USPS immunity rather than transferring liability to them so they can be held personally responsible for their poor driving."
East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton said he was bewildered by the news.
"I was unaware that the post office doesn't have to stop at red lights or obey the speed limit," he told Cleveland.com. "But since they are, I wish I'd get my mail faster."