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Postal Service says it’s immune from local traffic laws, report says

Discussion in 'The OT' started by fluffybear, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. Feb 2, 2013 #1 of 17
    fluffybear

    fluffybear Hall Of Fame DBSTalk Club

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    From Fox News:

     
  2. Feb 2, 2013 #2 of 17
    fluffybear

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    I really hope the USPS loses this case. It is bad enough when Police, Fire, & Ambulances abuse their siren (no call) to get through busy intersections or speed but now we will have to keep our eyes out for the USPS as well.
     
  3. Feb 2, 2013 #3 of 17
    dpeters11

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    Agreed, though I personally have never seen a postal truck doing this kind of thing. But no government or quasi government agency should be immune from traffic laws.
     
  4. Feb 2, 2013 #4 of 17
    Davenlr

    Davenlr Geek til I die

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    Those little postal trucks can go over 35 mph? Wow.
     
  5. Feb 2, 2013 #5 of 17
    Rich

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    The way I understand this is that all municipal vehicles have to give way to Post Office trucks. And they are immune to traffic laws. I rarely see postmen abusing this. I was surprised to learn this. Before anyone asks, I don't have a link and I'm not gonna research this. I was told this by my postman who just retired after 25 years of service.

    Rich
     
  6. Feb 2, 2013 #6 of 17
    Rich

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    Every once in a while, they sell those trucks. I know a couple of people that have bought them. Lots of miles, slow driving, not the kind of truck I'd buy.

    Rich
     
  7. Feb 2, 2013 #7 of 17
    James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Per the USPS:
    By statute the Postal Service is classified as “an independent establishment of the Government of the United States,” [39 U.S.C. § 201] put in place by Congress to “be operated as a basic and fundamental service provided to the people by the Government of the United States, authorized by the Constitution, created by Act of Congress, and supported by the people.” [39 U.S.C. § 101 (a)] In this capacity, under the Constitution, the Postal Service shares in the sovereign immunity of the Federal Government from state and local regulation, except in areas where Congress has waived such immunity. [See Dolan v. United States Postal Service, 546 U.S. 481, 483 (2006).] The principal waiver is that, like many federal corporations, but unlike most agencies, the Postal Service is generally subject to suit, although jurisdiction lies in Federal District court, not state courts. [Franchise Tax Board of Calif. v. United States Postal Service, 467 U.S. 512 (1984); 39 U.S.C. §§ 401(1), 409(a).] No special postal waiver is provided for state legislation or administrative regulation, although the Postal Service is covered under federal environmental statutes broadly waiving federal immunity from state requirements.

    According to the U.S. Supreme Court: [United States Postal Service v. Council of Greenburgh Civic Ass’ns, 453 U.S. 114, 133 (1981).]
    If Congress and the Postal Service are to operate as efficiently as possible a system for the delivery of mail which serves a Nation extending from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, from the Canadian boundary on the north to the Mexican boundary on the south, it must obviously adopt regulations of general character having uniform applicability throughout the more than three million square miles which the United States embraces. In so doing, the Postal Service's authority to impose regulations cannot be made to depend on all of the variations of climate, population, density, and other factors that may vary significantly within a distance of less than 100 miles.​
    source

    Personally it is a stretch ... and if it can be proven that there are postal service regulations that have been broken or Congress waives the immunity from local traffic laws then there is no immunity to rely on.
     
  8. Feb 2, 2013 #8 of 17
    AntAltMike

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    A late friend of mine used to operate his own mail trucks under contract. He told me the same thing about them having priority over any vehicles. He told me that he could make them lower a drawbridge if he wanted them to. That was back in 1980.
     
  9. Feb 2, 2013 #9 of 17
    The Merg

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    It goes back to the old riddle:

    A fire truck, ambulance, police car, and postal truck all pull up to a 4-way stop at the same time. Who has the right of way? The answer is the postal truck since it is a federal agency vehicle.

    - Merg
     
  10. trh

    trh This Space for Sale

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    Still a bit of a reach. No need for them to run red lights and jeopardize those legally going through a green light.

    I remember for a number of years military bases in the states kept their drinking age at 18 no matter what the local drinking age was. And bases sold alcohol on Sundays even if illegal 'in town', because states can't impose laws on the federal government. But eventually, bases voluntarily complied with local laws, both because they were trying to be good neighbors and the military was cracking down on drinking. But you still don't pay state sales tax when shopping on bases because states can't tax the federal government.

    Unless the drivers had to speed or run red lights to accomplish their job, they shouldn't be exempt.
     
  11. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    That could get into a battle between federal agencies since the waterways can also be controlled by the federal government.

    I thought it would be the postal truck because the driver was more likely to be heavily armed.
     
  12. phrelin

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    At the risk of splitting hairs, I accept the idea that the local cop can't tow a truck with federal plates.

    However, a contractor's vehicle is licensed by the state. And in either case, the driver's license is issued by the state. Both can be revoked by the state for violations. Unless the Postal Service has started issuing licenses and registrations, I think someone is deluding themselves.

    Just my opinion, of course.
     
  13. cj9788

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    From I what have read in this case it is postal vehicles caught on red light cameras. If that is the case then they ticket the vehicles owner not the driver. The postal service knows or should know who was driving and when and should make the employee pay the ticket. That is what private companies with a fleet of cars on the road every day do when they get those tickets in the mail.

    The article did not mention any traffic stops by a police officer, if that was the case then the driver himself would have been cited. I wonder if the postal service provides legal resources to fight those in court on an individual basis.
     
  14. phrelin

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    I'm relying on this which may not be true...
    ...but if it is true, the Postal Service has some management and legal employees condoning violating the law by not disclosing who the driver is. Somehow, I don't think there's any provision in the employee manual protecting those management and legal employees from disciplinary action either.
     
  15. James Long

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    Snopes tackled the four way stop issue and puts the mail truck in last place:
    http://www.snopes.com/autos/law/fourway.asp

    It is an interesting read and includes references going back over a century.


    Courtesy of the National Association of Letter Carriers, The USPS has stated their view in their manual:
    http://www.nalc.org/depart/cau/pdf/manuals/m41.pdf

    812.2 Observe all traffic regulations prescribed by law. Rules applying to the public also apply to operators of postal vehicles.
     
  16. Christopher Gould

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    Are we talking the little trucks or maybe some of the tractor trailer trucks delivering mail to processing centers?
     
  17. James Long

    James Long Ready for Uplink! Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Based on the original article from Cleveland.com it is the regular mail trucks.

    The problem seems to be that the owner of the vehicle is being ticketed via traffic camera enforcement. If actual police officers were present and made a traffic stop they could ticket the driver. Ticketing the owner, the USPS, does not work.
     

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