Postal Truck in a red zone?

I need to find federal and state of California laws that would allow or not allow a United States Postal truck to either park or not park in a red zone.

IANAL, but I do work in a parking bureaucracy in California- if it has an exempt plate, it is considered an emergency vehicle. In my particular agency, it would probably NOT be dismissed at the initial level, but would be dismissed on hearing.

This can only be considered anecdotal, but you can try your own search for exempt vehicles at

Postal trucks are not emergency vehicles, and don’t get a free ride in parking in fire zones. However, I suspect that most police officers overlook this because people want to get their mail and they know the truck isn’t going to be parking there very long.

Besides, if they ticket the postal truck, would the Postal Service pay the fine? Could you even make the Postal Service pay a parking fine?

What agency do you work for and what basis does it use to justify “exempt” meaning “emergency?” Because the California Vehicle Code is very distinct about what the definition of an emergency vehicle is and the “Exempt” on the plate means “Exempt” from registration fees, not “Exempt” from the law. :rolleyes:

Also, I don’t know about USPS trucks specifically, but most federal government vehicles have U.S. Government plates, not “exempt” state plates.

In California the post office delivery route trucks have no license plates.

On my rounds today, I discovered what IAmNotSpartacus refers to. No license plates. How interesting. Exempt in California apparently applies to vehicle registration.

I’m not sure about USPS trucks, but I’ve had a UPS driver reassigned on the basis of his unwillingness to find a better place to park in my workplace’s lot than blocking the handicapped access ramp to our front door, which he used for his hand truck and seemed to think was there for deliveries, not our several wheelchair users who occasionally had to wait to get in and out of the building, and his rounds around the building could take 20-30 minutes.

As a USPS carrier I’m surprised to realize I don’t know the LAW involved.
Personally, I deliver in a rural area and parking is seldom a problem. I have seen city carriers park in red zones while servicing a drop box, meaning maybe 2 minutes. But I’ve never s een one get out and make an inside delivery while parked in a red zone.

IANAL but I have been told by USPS attorneys that the Federal Government is not subject to local and state laws by the constitutional principle of “sovereign immunity”. Unless the feds waive the right to be exempt from state and local laws, as they have in several environmental and employee safety areas, the state can’t ticket a federal vehicle.

Now, a federal driver is a different question, so speeding tickets, etc. are OK.

Not sure of the legality of parking in CA, but in MI I’m fiarly certain that the fire lane is specifically for emergency vehicles.
Anecdotal: A few years back a mail truck was parked in the fire lane at a high rise. Fire alarm went off and we (FD) arrived before the mail carrier could get to his vehicle. I, driving the first engine, blocked off his vehicle from the front, and the second engine blocked the guy from the rear. He was less than happy with the situation and decided that he’d just pull on the sidewalk to go about his route. Ended up tearing the sidewall on two tires. The best part of this was that a police officer was on the scene and ticked him for both parking in a fire lane and (something else regarding driving on the sidewalk). Good times.

These attorneys are incorrect, wholly and totally.

Why wouldn’t it be like any other company or organization?

Sec. 102-34.235 Am I bound by State and local traffic laws?

No argument here. This pertains to the driver, not the vehicle. Vehicles don’t get traffic tickets, and drivers of government vehicles are subject to all local and state laws.
Sec. 102-34.245 Who pays for parking fines?

Sorry, this guidance to employees is legally incorrect. I can see GSA’s attempt to instruct drivers to pay parking tickets, just to maintain goodwill with the local authorities, but legally the feds don’t pay. I’m sure this can be used as a club for those employees that routinely park illegally, but the federal agency won’t pay.

I’m familiar with this topic because of a disagreement I had with New Jersey. The issue was that NJ wanted postal vehicles to have smog inspections done according to a schedule based on the vehicle registration. Sorry, postal vehicles aren’t registered by states, and we weren’t going to start. Emission inspections were required by a waiver of sovereign immunity in the Clean Air Act Amendments, but nothing requires conformance with registration requirements.

Here’s the most recent cite I could find:

“Still, there is little doubt that USPS brings unique advantages to the shipping table. As a quasi-governmental entity, it is exempted from tolls, parking fees and fines, and customs duties, rivals say. It is required to report income tax on earnings from competitive products, but according to Hempstead Consulting, it pays the tax back to itself. USPS does not pay fuel surcharges other than those levied by its consolidator partners. And unlike its competitors, the Postal Service (which is required by law to serve every address in America six days a week) does not levy surcharges on Saturday deliveries or on deliveries to remote or rural service areas.”


Bolding mine.

Can you find any cites that are from unbiased sources-- i.e. Someone who is not the USPS’s direct competition?

I want to thank everybody, this stuff is a really good start to my problem. If anybody has anything further, please add.

Sure, here’s some think tank papers: (PDF warning)

Sorry, I didn’t see these before, but the magic Google search is “postal service exempt parking ticket”.

I’m sure the federal agency won’t pay- but that doesn’t mean that the drivers are not responsible for the tickets. I work for a state agency, and have a placard which allows me to park contrary to certain parking restrictions. If I get a ticket for one of these offenses, my agency submits an “official business defense” and the ticket is dismissed. If I get a ticket for a “non-amenable” offense ( such as blocking a fire hydrant) , my agency will not have the ticket dismissed and I will have to pay it. Parking tickets in my area are issued to the “owner or operator” of a vehicle, and the owner can certainly hold the operator responsible for paying the ticket.


This reminds me of the “Laugh-In” sketch with Ernestine the operator, when she’s talking to then President Nixon

“Yes, Mr Nixon, I know you’re president, look how’d you like me to rip all phones out of the White House?”

The point is, sure you can give a ticket to a postal truck, but then don’t be surprised if your mail gets lost.