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March 20, 1996's Question

Is driving in the USA a right or a privilege? What should it be?

Background Information

Well, I would give you some but I really don't know that much about the issue and I don't want to give inaccurate information. So I am leaving it up to you. If could give me a little bit of background info I will post it in place of this. Meanwhile just tell me what you think/know of the issue.

Things to Consider

Pages that might be Helpful

Your Input

So what do you think?

With no email address I have no way of getting back to you if there is a problem with your post

Others Input

From: Matthew T. Russotto <>
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 1996 16:07:32 -0500 (EST)

It is far too dangerous to allow the government to treat essential
activities as privileges, revocable at the whim of government.  It
allows the government to take away even our enumerated rights, through
the simple expedient of making a waiver of those rights a condition of
getting the license to do the essential activity.  We already see this
with so-called implied consent laws which waive the Fourth Amendment
right against unreasonable search and seizure in drunk driving cases.

A related danger is the government using the licenses to impose
extrajudicial (administrative) punishments on people who behave in a
way contrary to the government's wishes.  We see this in West Virginia
where high school dropouts have their driver's licenses taken away.
Other states take away the licenses of minors in possession of alcohol
(even when they are not using an automobile at the time),and it has at
least been proposed that the licenses of drug users be taken away.
Governments also revoke licenses of those who are accused of failing
to pay child support or alimony, even when they may be attempted to
remedy the situation through proper channels.

Any activity essential to leading a normal life must be considered a
right, and not a privilege.  Any less short-circuits constitutional
guarantees and leaves us at the mercy of government bureaucrats.
Driving is such an essential activity:  though some people in some
situations can get along without driving, for most of us doing
without it would be a great hardship.  We would have to give up our
job, our home, or both, and move to a city.  We'd be unable to go on
many business trips where we'd have to drive at the destination--
reducing our employability.  While getting from city to city would
still be possible, getting to suburban areas would become impractical,
expensive, or both.  For those living in rural areas (such as West
Virginia), getting along without driving is basically impossible --
it would be like getting along without a horse before the invention
of the automobile.

From: "James M. Mullins, Jr." 
Date: Sat, 15 Jun 1996 20:23:02 -0400 (EDT)

After looking at this issue really hard, I have to concude that driving is
a right. The main factor was that some states are now starting to revoke
driver's licenses for things totally unrelated to driving. They then claim
it is a privilege and that in order to keep it, you must obey ALL laws, not
just driving ones. Examples:

1) West Virginia revokes driver's licenses from high school dropouts (I
   disagree with both that practice and dropping out of school)

2) Some states are now starting to revoke driver's licenses from those
   behind on child support (they should find another way to make deadbeat
   parents pay up)

3) Some states have considered (and some may have even enacted) laws to
   revoke driver's licenses of high school students who make poor grades

4) Some states revoke driver's licenses for breaking non-traffic laws.
   However, I do believe they should be reoked while people are doing
   jail/prison time, so they won't be able to legally drive if they've
   escaped (although they would be nabbed very quickly if they were
   caught and a check was done on the license).

5) Certain areas hold driver's licenses over people's heads for various
   other reasonas as well.

Those who think it should be a privilege fail to understand many
things. It really became set in that driving was a right during the
1950's. That's when cities became broke down into separate areas that
could only easily be traveled to by car. I mean, you'd have all the
single-family home in one area, apartments and condos in another,
retail stores in another, recreation in another, and other businesses
in another (e.g. banks, corporate HQ's, hospitals, etc.)

I also believe that states that have laws that in any way permit
parents to flex control over whether or not their children may drive
should repeal them. I know that in states where parents have "veto"
power on the driver's license they hold it over their children's
heads. Whether or not you can drive deeply affects your social life. I
mean, how many teenager would honestly want theirt parents near them
when they were with their friends (or boyfriends or
girlfriends). None. You get to do different things whenever you have
this freedom. I always thought that getting a driver's license only
depended on competency to drive, not something your parents
thought. But I know thai, if anything, parents would only be given
more control over this because children can't vote and would not be
angry by the time they started voting.

Now, driving, like any other right, also has its
responsibilities. This includes being a safe and courteous
driver. This includes not driving when drunk, high, or just barely
able to keep your eyes open, although it is no crime (at least in my
state) to drive when very fatigued. However, we should discourage
it. I would also oppose laws on fatigued driving because there is no
reliable way to set a limit on what is too much to be driving.  We
also have to kep our cars in good working order and safe (I believe
most drivers also own their own car).

Let's just take another right as an example. Voting. You can't vote if
you're mentally incompetent. You can't vote if you're in prison for a
serious crime. You can't vote in your area if you haven't met
residency requirements.

From: Jim <>
Date: Fri, 29 Mar 1996 13:24:11 -0500 (EST)

I consider people to have the right to travel, but driving must be
regulated.  With cars I'm sure you all know people who drive, but are
safety hazards.  This would be worse if there was no regulation. 
Also, if someone committed a crime or there was a hit and run how
could you identify who did it.  Sometimes crooks steal cars and they
are spotted and retrieved.  The government may be a bit more intrusive
than it should, but we need some sort of vehicle registration and

From: Bradley Nave <>
Date: Fri, 22 Mar 1996 15:05:45 -0500 (EST)

Driving, while a one of the most basic forms of freedom, is not a
right in the sense that every American has the right to drive, no
matter what.  People should have to pass strict tests and show
competancy before being alowed to drive.  As a political science
major, I don't see how making driving a privilege will give government
the power to arbitrarily take licenses away.  Due process of law is
not limited to rights, but to any government action that directly
harms someone.  There are too many people driving without enough
training and skill and they are the ones who cause accidents.  I have
no problems with requiring driver's ed for ALL PEOPLE before they can
recieve a license.  I know that it is an expensive class, but it is
well worth it.  The most important thing to remember is that we have
to be on the road with other drivers and I would feel better knowing
that they might actually know what they are doing.

From: Donovan Colbert <>
Date: Wed, 5 Feb 1997 17:10:01 -0500 (EST)

I think that looking at it by the legal definition of "Rights" versus
privlidges is the problem here. It is not an issue of judicial law
to me, but of moral law. And morally, driving is a privlidge, not a
right. It is expensive to own a car. Maintinance of a car is a 
tremendous expense. One must work to afford a vehicle, work to afford
the gasoline, work to afford the maintainance of the vehicle. 
In my perception, everything is a privlidge granted to by ones own 
efforts. People throw around the word "rights" without any concept
of the word "responsibilities". Therefore, it is not your *right*
to drive, it is a privlidge that each individual must earn. Not 
from our goverment, but from their own efforts. 

If you can't afford to pay child support, you are not meeting your
*responsibilities*, therefor how can you *possibly* afford to drive?

If you are a minor and you live with your parents, you are not
Making your own way, you are being subsidized by your parents. If
not for your parents, how could you afford to drive? Therefor, your
parents have a controlling intrest in your ability to drive. In trade
for no or incredibly little rent and food payments, they get a 
controlling intrest in your life. If you don't like it, once you are
18, move out and make it on your own. But, you'll probably end up
on a 10-speed, because you can't AFFORD to drive.

I can see that it is a "right" should you meet your obligations in
deserving that right. Being self-sufficient, meeting all your other
responsibilities. But if you can't meet your basic responsibilities
for *living*, then you certainly have no RIGHT to drive.

From: Shane 
Date: Thu, 2 May 1996 12:45:17 -0400 (EDT)

I can understand the "privledge" cluase going back in time to when an
auto moble was something that only the rich would drive around in.  In
those days, any job, family or problems were usually only a few miles
away, and we always had the option of taking a bike, of course that's
if you had one..

As for today (1990s) All that I have mentioned above is anything but
the same in today's society.  I'm in construction, my job or jobs
require that I travel all over NY and even out of state...  I can't
see that as being a privledge, for traveling long hours just so I can
eat at the end of the week is a fact of life for millions of people. 
You ask anyone who travels, does the traveling to work make them feel
at ease knowing that it's only a privledge that can be taken away at
any time..I'm sure their answers won't be surpricing...

No matter what the supreme ct. says, and we all know they are wrong
sometimes as well.  The fact remains that the roads in our time are a
right for the people made by the people to make life better for the
people and bring people closer together...

As for the speed limit.  If there was none the state would go broke. 
They keep the speed limit low for many reasons.  Well of course to keep
people safer (RIGHT!)  If they were to keep people safer then the
limit sould be 15 miles ph on the roads.  That way no one would get
hert..  What I'd like to know is that how did they come up with a
55mph limit.  I'm sure there answer is as good as their "privledge"

IT  IS A "PRIVLEDGE" which in my opionon is very untrue..
  IT SHOULD BE A "R I G H T"..........
Thanks for taking the time to read this...

From: Robert Cuda <>
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 04:01:39 -0500 (EST)

It is a right until it results in the slaughter of countless numbers
of innocents.  the "government" is supposed to be nothing more than
the will of the people personified into an acting body.  While it does
seem obvious that it has, to some extent, gone beyond this role; and
has turned partly into a tyrranical power, it still is only the will
of the people.

Using the terminology "right" and "privilege" is misleading.  The term
"privilege connotes a gift handed down from a great power.  I have the
right to kill hundreds of people...and you and the rest of the public
have the right to stop me.  (I tend to use hyperbole, so don't think
that I'm a nut...ok?)  It is the case of competing "rights" that are
inherent in being a creature that possesses free-will.  Dichotomizing
it into "rights" and "privileges" implies that certain things are
under the power of the government, which is simply not true.  the
daily news shows very clearly that scores of individuals do things
that they have no "right" to do, such as that nut in Dunblane.  Tell
me, did he exercise his right or his privilege in his barbaric act?
He exercised his freewill, and noone could stop him.

Anyway, I've gottne way too deep into philosophy for a silly little
question about traffic...sorry.

From: Ron Miller <>
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1996 16:07:47 -0400 (EDT)

Perhaps more of the public would get some idea of what the NRA is
about if driving were regulated like guns are.

"Driving is a right."  This should mean that all citizens are 
allowed a moped and 2 gallons of gas per month. This miserly
allocation of your rights means that you can't complain about
the rest.

"only those who can demonstrate a compelling need" should be allowed
to have any vehicle with 4 wheels. After all, most bank robberies
are committed by people who drive to and from them. And all
driveby shootings would end if there were no driving.

"Only the police and military" should have performance vehicles.
Because only your tax money can support such extravagance.

Seriously, I would like to see some minimal level of acknowlegement
that driving is a right. But I would also like to see some form
of incentive to get training, to maintain safe vehicles, and to
keep an excellent record. An Expert Driver License or somesuch
would be a positive incentive to improvement.
I greatly resent regulatorily imposed requirements to improvement.

I have taken the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Experienced Rider
Course 4 times for fun. It would be good if there were rewards
for being professional, courteous, and safety-minded.

From: Sean Aron <>
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 14:15:06 -0400 (EDT)

A car has the potential to be both an incredible aid in productivity
and a lethal weapon, and they should be treated as such.  More
stringent testing (that actually takes place on the open road) and
improved drivers' education both would help Americans lower accident
and death rates.  The knowledge that people can drive properly would
also allow for more liberal laws, such as the elimination or increase
of speed limits.

The most basic function of government is to protect the stupid and the
defenseless, to ensure the maximum amount of freedom for everyone
else.  Government then must teach those who want to drive how to do so
safely, within their limits, and to keep out of the way of others.  To
increase the freedom for the majority of us, we need to stop the
uneducated from ruining our roads.  Education breeds liberty.

There is no God- given right to endanger others; to increase our
freedoms we need to stop those who put others in danger.  Educate,
don't regulate.

Sean Aron
New Orleans, LA

From: Anonymous
Date: Tue, 23 Apr 1996 19:46:28 -0400 (EDT)

It should be a PRIVELDGE! Because there are alot of selfish, arrogant
drivers out there who are spoiled and insensitive to other drivers -
these individuals should be regulated, controlled and disciplined.  If
they are given the RIGHT, they will abuse that right boldly and not
care about the other driver's life involved.

In Germany, I've heard it costs a minimum of $5,000 PLUS stringent
training and driving tests BEFORE one receives their license.  In
other countries like this, driving is treated like FLYING AN AIRPLANE.
I know, I know, there is the fear of BIG BROTHER out there who will
take away our rights, but you know what?  Just as a parent should
ground a mis-behavin' child, the Government should represent the
safety and awareness of the people - Like a Gigantic Parent!  And slap
the wrists of those WHO ABUSE THAT PRIVELEGE!

Let's not get paranoid over the Government taking this to an extreme
and thinking that next they will tell us what kind of bread to put in
our toaster, but like the FAA governs the airways, so airplanes won't
come crashing into our houses, the DOT should govern the roadways, so
motorists won't be out-of-control and abusive.  Remember, out of a
1,000 motorists who would respect the RIGHT - 10 could abuse it -
hurting everyone!!!

From: Bill Williams <>
Date: Wed, 1 May 1996 19:25:14 -0400 (EDT)

Driving is a right ... no matter WHAT the courts have said. In this
country, you have the right to travel (unless arreseted). The method
of travel is up to you, be it foot, bike, horse, turtle or auto. I
see no reason to restrict this choice save two ... money and control.
The money concept is simple ... license and regestration fees are a
tax. The control arrises in that the issuing body can revoke your
"privilege" for whatever reason it sees fit. Here in Texas, they are
passing laws yanking the licenses of "dead-beat dads". These people 
are not a menace on the highway, yet they loose their license anyway.
So much for the benevolent goventment not abusing it's power.

From: Don Hawryluk <>
Date: Sat, 13 Apr 1996 22:44:07 -0400 (EDT)

The first thing my father said to me when I was I got behind the wheel
of the '57 Chevy to learn how to drive was, "this is a lethal weapon."
Once you've earned the privilege, through education and training,then
it becomes your right and responsibility. 

From: Nitin Karnani 
Date: Tue, 9 Apr 1996 23:27:20 -0400 (EDT)

Driving is a privelege.  Anything that lets you take the lives of 
so many people in your hand is a privelege and not a right.  Driving
tests and exams are to easy in the US.  I have seen to many people 
pass driver exams who should not be driving.  This goes for males 
and females.  Some people need more experience driving. I am not 
against driving "fast", but I am against "unsafe" drivers, like those
who find it so necessary to smoke and talk on a celluar phone at 
the same time while driving with some unkown part of their body,
those who drive drunk and those who seem to get so nervous at the
drop of a leaf.  I'm NOT asking for a perfect society, but just
a little comon sense on the part of states before they hand out
drivers licenses to new drivers and renew licenses by mail without
ever requiring to take a road test again.

From: Derek Cross <>
Date: Tue, 30 Apr 1996 18:06:32 -0400 (EDT)

DRIVING IS A PRIVILEDGE! If driving is deemed a right, then any twit
with enough money can drive without retribution. If driving is a right
then it can not be taken away (check your constituion guys). Under no
circumstances should anyone be given carte blanche to drive. I know
I'm a good driver, you, I've never seen before. You may have learned
to drive 60 years ago and never taken a drivers test. You may never
have taken performance driving courses. You may be driving on a
freeway for the first time since you left the farm in Iowa. With
driving considered to be a right how could you stiffen the driving
exams and requirements? How could the courts be able to refuse a
dangerous driver to get behind the wheel? How could a cronic alcoholic
be banned from driving? 

Maintain that driving is a priviledge for the protection of us all.

From: Jeff Fanning <>
Date: Thu, 9 May 1996 19:01:04 -0400 (EDT)

Right or Priviledge?

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.  Makes a pretty good
argument for driving as a priviledge.
Since drivers are supposed to obey the rules, and if they don't then
they should not be allowed to drive
that suggests that driving is a priviledge.

My Opinion:  Driving is definitely a priviledge.

From: Brandon Sommerville <>
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 1996 12:24:27 -0500 (EST)

Driving should be more heavily restricted.  Licensing should
be more difficult than checking for a pulse, which is how it
seems now.

Stricter driver training in accident avoidance, high speed 
driving and etiquette is essential.

You can't drive without travelling, but you can travel without

From: Stephen A. McDuffie <>
Date: Mon, 25 Mar 1996 21:26:44 -0500 (EST)

Stricter testing every 3 years on rules, hand to eye coordination
tests, driving record and age should be considered.  I am only 19
years old but I love to drive and wish the more careless drivers would
get out of my way. I have driving experience and my elders have more
than I do and if we can figure a way to give each person a different
speed limit for their own skills I believe it would help.

From: Rob Sprague <>
Date: Fri, 5 Apr 1996 23:56:42 -0500 (EST)

America is designed for mass transit.. this being so, Driving is a
RIGHT not a privilage !! I feel it a privilege to have my career ,but,
not a privilege to drive to do it !,nor grocery getting or any other
driveing neccessary task....  thanks 
                                      rob sprague

From: Tom Ingling <>
Date: Wed, 29 May 1996 22:17:57 -0400 (EDT)

Of course it's a right. We're talking about public roads; like
anything public, all residents of the U.S. should have equal access to
them. That doesn't mean anything about the government's ability to
revoke licenses for offenses; we all have a right to freedom, but
convicted murderers go to jail, abridging that right. Of course
serious traffic offenders should have their license revoked, but as a
public resource, I believe it is obvious and undebatable that use of
public roads is a right.

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