Postal Service puts blame on carriers in traffic ticket dispute

The U.S. Postal Service now says it will turn over the names of the mail carriers allegedly caught running red lights and speeding in school zones in suburban Cleveland.

“The Postal Service does not intend to pay these fines,” Postal Service spokesman David Van Allen told Yahoo News in an email. “The Postal Service is in the process of providing the issuing authority with the names of the individual drivers driving the vehicles observed in the camera imaged violations so that the tickets may be issued directly to the individual drivers.”

The issue gained national attention last month when a lawyer for the Postal Service claimed the group “enjoys federal immunity from state and local regulation” in an exchange of letters with American Traffic Solutions, the company that enforces East Cleveland’s camera citations.

The Postal Service’s Jennifer S. Breslin later apologized for any misunderstanding.

“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,” Breslin wrote in 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.”

ATS attorney George Hittner welcomed the Postal Service’s about-face to help identify the drivers.

“This is the way it is supposed to be and how the safety program is designed so that the true offender is held accountable,” Hittner wrote in an email.

Photos from the seven alleged infractions were obtained by Yahoo News. Each carries a $95 fine.

Dan Toth of the National Association of Letter Carriers in Ohio said mail truck drivers know they are required to follow traffic laws, but he questioned whether the camera photos will be enough to identify the alleged culprits.

“We do change vehicles so often, and you’d be relying on the schedules to basically make sure that carrier was driving that vehicle at that moment in time,” Toth said. “They better make sure that they are 100 percent sure that they got the right vehicle at the right time of the day.”

If not, the citation squabble could continue.

“Responsibility has to be transferred to someone,” ATS spokesman Charles Territo wrote in an email. “We’re still a few years away from vehicles that drive themselves.”

Postal Service traffic ticket letters