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POSTAL SERVICE DECLARES THEMSELVES IMMUNE FROM THE RED LIGHT CAMERA TICKETS THEY DELIVER TO “WE THE PEOPLE”

There is little doubt in my mind that red light camera systems are not about safety, but revenue generation for municipalities and the operators of the camera systemS. And, it is also my belief that no local, state or federal vehicle or driver is not subject to the existing law unless they are traveling on official business – normally with lights, horns and sirens to warn approaching motorists.

Above the law … 

City Of East Cleveland
Automated Traffic Control Violation System
P.O. Box 742503.
Cincinnati, OH 45274-2503

To Whom It May Concern:

Please accept this letter in response to your Notice of Liability sent to the United States Postal Service facility at 1801 Broadway Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44101-9000, seeking payment of the above-referenced citation.

As an initial matter, you should know that the United States Postal Service is proud to serve the many thousands of communities across the country, including those in Cleveland, Ohio. With over 27,500 post offices delivering well over 200 billion pieces of mail annually, the Postal Service continues to meet its mission of providing prompt, reliable, and efficient mail services to all communities, as it has done for over two centuries.

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

The Constitution of the United States authorizes Congress to establish Post Offices and in 1775 the first Post Offices were founded. U.S. Const. art. I §8, cl.1. In 1971, Congress enacted the Postal Reorganization Act ("PRA") which established the United States Postal Service as an "independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States." 39 U.S.C. §201.

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. 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.

Should you have any questions or wish to discuss, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

JENNIFER S. BRESLIN
Senior Litigation Counsel
Eastern Area Law Office

The answer from American Traffic Solutions (ATS): The employee must pay …

Dear Ms. Breslin:

Please accept this letter in response to your correspondence dated January 22, 2013, wherein you addressed several traffic citations United States Postal Service ("USPS") employees(s)
received while in the course of performing their job duties in the City of East Cleveland, Ohio.

To begin, we must admit our surprise upon reading your letter. Please understand that as a photo traffic safety company we have grown accustomed to receiving letters from citizens and entities asserting traffic laws do not apply to them. However, we never expected to receive such a letter from the USPS. The crux of your argument appears to be that due to its status as an "independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States" the USPS and all its drivers are rendered virtually untouchable by state and local laws.

Unfortunately for the USPS, this proposition is completely contrary to the case law, is in direct conflict with the instructions set forth in the Postal Employee's Guide to Safety Manual, and contradicts other instances where the USPS has paid similar photo enforcement violations.

Although the United States government is free from state regulation in the absence of congressional mandate to the contrary, Hancock v. Train, 426 U.S. 167, 178-81 (1976), the USPS's immunity does not shield its employees from civil fines for violations of statutes, regulations, or ordinances relating to the safe operation of motor vehicles. See Commonwealth of Virginia v. Stiff, 144 F.Supp. 169 (W.O. Va. 1956); State of Oklahoma v. Willingham, 143 F.Supp. 445 (E.D. Okla. 1956). In Commonwealth v. Closson, the court held that the driver of a vehicle transporting United States mail is not exempt from the operation of state statutes and municipal ordinances regulating traffic on the highways. 229 Mass. 329, 118 N.E. 653, (1918). Thus, a fine for a violation committed while using a government vehicle is the personal responsibility of an employee.

Here, the East Cleveland ordinance establishing its photo enforcement program imposes liability for red-light violations on the owner of the vehicle. East Cleveland Ordinance No. 07-06, Section 1 (c)(1 ). 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. East Cleveland Ordinance No. 07-06, Section 1 (c)(4)i. 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 so that the employee may take personal responsibility, as the City of East Cleveland ordinance contemplates.

<snip – removed legal posturing>

The tickets you disclaimed liability for in your January 22, 2013 letter were received by the USPS for its driver(s) running red-lights as well as speeding in school zones. 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.

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.

In closing, in light of your immunity assertion, we have taken the liberty of crafting a revised 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 rounds.

Sincerely,

American Traffic Solutions, Inc.
George J. Hittner
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary

We don’t care who pays us, just that we are paid …

Just tell us which individuals were driving those vehicles and we will pursue them relentlessly.

Bottom line …

If the issue was safety, I would be a proponent of the system, but it appears that this is little more than a legal shakedown of citizens on behalf of greedy politicians and their special interest cohorts. In most cases, safety is not an issue and the great majority of red light camera tickets are for making rolling right-hand turns. One could also make the case that red light cameras increase the probability of rear-end accidents as drivers slam on their brakes to avoid a hefty fine.

Red light cameras are being eliminated in several California cities and throughout the nation, thus severely impacting the business models of the operators of the red light camera systems. It should also be noted that the political corruption of politicians by lobbyists and special interests will also be curtailed as the cameras are phased out. A win for the law-abiding consumer who occasionally makes a non-harmful mistake which results in hundreds of dollars in fines and, often, an increase in insurance premiums.

For those seeking more information on the perfidy of red light camera systems, might I suggest you check out www.highwayrobbery.net. It is a comprehensive compendium of great information curated by a community activist who is looking out for the driver and fighting against inappropriate use of political power.

-- steve 


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell

“Fere libenter homines id quod volunt credunt." (The people gladly believe what they wish to.) ~Julius Caesar

“Describing the problem is quite different from knowing the solution. Except in politics." ~ OCS

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