Skip to comments.Why Should the State License Drivers?
Posted on 01/29/2012 1:05:34 PM PST by Kaslin
WITH MY DRIVER'S LICENSE expiring in February, I made a trip to the Registry of Motor Vehicles last week to renew it. To my astonishment, I was in and out of the RMV branch at the Watertown Mall in just 15 minutes.
From past experience, I had expected much worse. When I renewed my license five years ago -- at a facility the Registry whimsically dubbed a "License Express" -- I had to wait for an hour and a quarter before being served. An earlier renewal had required two trips to the Registry: The first one proved futile when the clerk shut off the computer at closing time, curtly telling the 11 people in line that they would have to come back another day.
So it was a pleasant surprise when my latest encounter with the Registry proved so quick and painless.
Of course it would have been even more painless to renew my driver's license online, but when I tried to do so my application was rejected. It turns out the Registry was listing me under multiple records; the system had generated a new one whenever my address changed, and it was unable to merge them -- or to issue a new license -- unless I appeared in person. "But I've lived at the same address for 15 years," I said to the clerk. He shrugged. "It should be OK next time," he told me.
Yet why should there have to be a next time? Why should keeping an ordinary driver's license up to date oblige anyone to deal with a government agency, in person or online? I hadn't even realized that my license was about to expire until an airport security agent pointed it out to me the last time I flew out of Logan. The Registry no longer sends renewal notices; and woe betide the motorist who gets pulled over with an expired license, an infraction that can trigger a fine of up to $1,000, not to mention a potential arrest.
Try to imagine Visa or Discover requiring you to remember when your credit card is about to expire, and making you get in line at a branch office or go online to renew it. On the contrary: They do the remembering and renew your card automatically. Before the old one expires, you get a new one in the mail. And if there is an anomaly in your account, they typically flag it and alert you right away.
In the private economy, automatic renewals are routine. From Netflix subscriptions to homeowner's insurance to newspaper delivery, vendors and service providers of every description make it simple to keep your account up-to-date. Your antivirus software and 401(k) investments can be put on autopilot, refreshing at regular intervals unless you choose to opt out. Why shouldn't your driver's license work the same way?
Maybe the real question is why the state should license drivers in the first place.
It's one thing to require would-be motorists to enroll in driver's-education classes and to be tested on their knowledge of safe driving practices and highway signs and signals. And of course anyone getting behind the wheel of a car should be liable for damage caused through negligence or irresponsibility. But to condition driving itself on governmental permission? To extort a chunk of money every few years to keep that permission current? By what right?
It's no answer to say that driving can be dangerous or that roads are public property. Drinking bourbon, building campfires, and playing ice hockey can be dangerous too, but you don't need Big Brother's say-so before you can do them. And if drivers have to be licensed because they use public roadways, why shouldn't bicyclists, joggers, and skateboarders be licensed as well?
In the new state budget he unveiled last week, Governor Deval Patrick chops $15 million from the Registry of Motor Vehicles. "We have to start doing things differently in a whole host of areas," he explained. "That is not just government doing things differently; it is asking citizens to interact with their government differently."
Agreed. But rather than merely trimming the Registry's budget, what Patrick should be asking is why issuing or renewing driver's licenses needs to be a public function at all. You shouldn't need a license to drive a car any more than you need one to use a computer or ride a horse. I'm grateful that my latest trip to the Registry went so briskly. If Patrick is really open to doing things differently, however, eliminating those trips altogether would be a great step forward.
If you're a licensed citizen, however, you'd be looking at at least a $400 traffic fine.
Your tagline is broken
You dont need a drivers license to drive a car.
My license has been suspended, for various reasons for something like 20 years.
When I get pulled over and they ask me for my license, I start pretending to look for it all over my car. First emptying out my glove compartment and then searching under the car seats. I do this for as long as it takes. This always works, every time.
Driving with license revoked or suspended is the number one reason people come to our local jail. If that charge didn’t exist it would have a huge impact on prison staffing, DA staffing, public defender staffing, etc.
A license should be required to campaign for office; if elected, a separate license should be required to hold office.
You shouldn’t need a license to drive.
This video shows libertarian paradise where no one needs drivers license:
I’m glad YOU don’t have problems asking permission from government to.exercise your RIGHTS. And driving, as with any other means of transportation, is a RIGHT. You have an absolute right to travel to anywhere you wish to go, presuming you can afford the bill (or just walk). There is ZERO legitimate reason for government to compel you to obtain its permission. Ever. Proving financial responsibility (insurance): fine. License: never.
Doesn't the license show up as being suspended when they do a license plate check? BTW: My county privatized the local county DMV and it is night and day better from the state employees who operated the DMV before. At least the new employees don't bite your head off if you ask a question.
Your point is...???
Imo, the insurer should issue the license. After all, your driving is at their risk. Under that regimen, a relationship would develop between the quality of the driver and his or her equipment, the degree of necessary validation, and the cost of coverage.
Ha! I said "...shouldnt need a license to drive", not "shouldn't require the ability/skills to drive".
Besides, left alone the roads police themselves, as shown in the video when the low skills driver in the Fiat/Lada gets sent to the pits by the Landcruiser/Lexus.
I agree - if you build your own roads and want to drive on them, knock yourself out. Let me know when you’ve hit 20 miles of highway and I’ll come take a drive on it.
My car is owned by my dad. So it is physically my car, just not a matter of record. When ever I get my license suspended, I moved to another state. Problem with me is that I am a goofy guy and every time I get stopped they think I am drunk or on drugs. So I get accused of DUI almost every time. I have learned to refuse to do the DUI gymnastics (sobriety test) because I cant balance on one foot. So whenever I get pulled over I keep repeating "I have inner ear problems."
The big problem is that 40,000 people are killed every year in automobile accidents in the US. Its almost like re-fighting the Vietnam war every year. At this level of death and destruction, you could save a lot of lives by outlawing driving altogether.
Driving is so destructive that we have to take a lot of rights of citizens away and put up with a lot of laws in order to mitigate this very dangerous activity. It could be argued that the automobile is the biggest enemy of our constitution because of the things our government must do to keep the carnage to acceptable levels.
You might say we have a choice. A semi-police state or the probable death of you or a loved one before their time.
It is quite a choice, really.
Arizona’s license is valid until 65, so the expiration varies from person to person. I hate the idea of getting one here in NC for that very reason.
Driver certification should be done by insurance companies. The state should bar only driving without a suitable certification.
The insurance folks know what it pertinent to public safety.
Even speed limits should be between the driver and the insurance company.
My sister lived for 9 years in Finland. Her Finnish DL will expire when she turns 65.
Yeah they’re a bunch of greenie-wienie gun-shy socialists, but this one thing they did right IMHO.
(That is, as the OP indicates, if you have to have a DL in the first place...)
I have a problem with all government “permits” to do legal things. AFAIC, you should only have to get a permit to do something that would otherwise be illegal...the way police have to get a warrant in order to perform a B&E.