10 votes

Is driving an automobile really a privilege, or a right?

Since I can remember, I've been told by government employees, teachers, and even family (who I'm sure learned it from their schools) that driving a car is a privilege, not a right. Is driving a vehicle really just a privilege? Let's examine this for a moment.

If we believe in individual liberty and the free markets, then that alone is enough to disprove this theory. Before the automobile, people traveled by train, horse, or feet, and that was not considered a privilege, because to own a horse or ride on a train was your right to purchase, as it was the right for the person to sell you the horse or the ticket.

Freedom to travel, or freedom of movement, is a natural right. When the government states that driving is a privilege, and then requiring us to receive a license to operate a automobile, then they can take away that "privilege" if they feel the need, therefore they presume the right of being in charge of a form of travel. In this situation, they have come between us and a car dealership, negating a transaction between two free individuals within a so called "free market", which it no longer appears to be.

Finally, a driver license was not put in place until the 1900's, and in every state by 1918*, which means that before government assumed ownership of travel per automobile, it was a right, though short lived.


* http://amhistory.si.edu/onthemove/exhibition/exhibition_8_2....

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a privilege

Granted by the owner of the road. If the driving surface is unowned, then it's a right (e.g., cruising the ocean in a boat).

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.” — Albert Camus

Natural Rights, Legal Rights, Contract Rights

In general,
Natural rights are those actions one can engage in without needing the permission of another. I think this is what the OP is referring to as a right.

Legal rights are those actions one can engage in because a legislature granted permission.

Contract rights are those actions one can engage in because of a contract.

I think traveling by car IS a natural right, however, I don't think the legal system agrees. Many things ARE natural rights and very few of them are recognized as such by legislatures. Tyranny.
When will we learn that the ONLY way to secure our NATURAL RIGHTS are to limit the power of the legislature. How have we allowed these tiny groups of people such large amounts of unmitigated power?

Dad's drivin'. I'm operatin'. Ain't needin' no license, a'tall.

Dad figures government revenuers ain't fit fer... Well, I can't rightly recall what he said... But he made pretty certain 'bout it.

Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul

If I Can Freely...

If I can freely ride a bike, skateboard, roller skates, unicycle, dirt bike, four wheeler, and scooter, I can freely drive a car.

No object on earth is a privilege to own or operate. I have a right to life, liberty and property.

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Driving for hire or gain is oft licensed as a commercial act.

So, you think you are a driver? Ha! Compare yourself actual drivers.

So who is driver & who is driven?

DRIVER: The term "driver" in contradistinction to "traveler," is defined as:

"Driver: One employed in conducting a coach, carriage, wagon, or other vehicle ..." Bovier's Law Dictionary, 1914 ed., Pg. 940

Notice that this definition includes one who is "employed" in conducting a vehicle. It should be self-evident that this individual could not be "travelling" on a journey, but is using the road as a place of business.

OPERATOR: Today we assume that a "traveler" is a "driver," and a "driver" is an "operator." However, this is not the case.

"It will be observed from the language of the ordinance that a distinction is to be drawn between the terms `operator' and `driver'; the `operator' of the service car being the person who is licensed to have the car on the streets in the business of carrying passengers for hire; while the `driver' is the one who actually drives the car. However, in the actual prosecution of business, it was possible for the same person to be both "operator" and "driver."
Newbill vs. Union Indemnity Co., 60 SE.2d 658

To further clarify the definition of an "operator" the court observed that this was a vehicle "for hire" and that it was in the business of carrying passengers.


Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul

I defer to Michael Badnarik


Rights are like muscles; you must exercise them to keep them fit, or they will atrophy and die.


but it is a mistake.

Did you just basically say

Did you just basically say that no one should be driving an automobile? Would you prefer we return to horse and carriage?

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.


It is not a question of return. It is not a question of my preference either. It is a question of morality and direction for the future.

If you think carefully about how to justify personal property rights, I don't think you can find any justification for either of two things:

1. We have no claim to material property over future generations.

2. We have no right to unsustainably and permanently destroy that which is our property.

Setting aside theories about sustainable fossil fuel generation, automobile use has developed to incorporate "unlimited" destruction of a nonrenewable resource as well as corporate support structures which are unjustifiably coercive against non-participants. I did not consent to the polution and roads that have been constructed with resources stolen from me.

For the sake of argument, let us say we were sustainably burning renewable resources like ethanol or wood. Let us also say that roads were constructed on justifiably owned property by people who wanted them. Neither of these things are true, but one could imagine they were. What would be the benefit? We can move around farther from community and faster. Does this contribute to health or community? The Amish, for example, decided it didn't. Do you think they reject cars because they want to be old-fashioned? That is not the case. they reject cars because they see no benefit for health or community.

Destroying that which you do not have a right to destroy is immoral. If you (sustainably) burn (and thus destroy) a piece of firewood, you have stolen nothing, as long as it is your piece of wood. It can be replaced for future generations. If you (sustainably) kill a deer and eat it, it can be replaced. If you destroy a forest, then you are stealing from future generations. If you burn that which cannot be replaced, you are stealing from future generations. So the first consideration is one of morality.

The second is one of desirability. It is a question of direction for the future. If you value speed and experience over health and community, you are making a mistake. You may have a right to make a mistake. (I would not entertain the notion that it is a privalege to drive a car. I am happy to say it is a right under the rightful circumstances---which we don't have.) I would not presume, under the assuumption that an individual is sustainably making a mistake with that which is justifiably his property and he is able and willing to bear the consequences of his mistake----none of which are true when it comes to driving cars in modern America, to suggest that no one "should" be driving an automobile. But it is a mistake nevertheless.

In short, I don't care what you do with that which is yours. But can you give me a single reason why I myself would want to drive a car? I can give you a dozen why I don't want to drive a car and think it's a mistake.

Your #2 doesnt make any

Your #2 doesnt make any sense. If you are so gung ho for individual rights than the individual has the right to destroy whatever he might own. This also contradicts your #1 which you say we have no claim to material property. Quite frankly, the idea that we have no claim to property is rediculous and sounds a bit like communism.

The correct stance to take is that we have no right to destroy that which isnt ours, which includes the air we breath and nature in general. You obviously take a hard line view of things so I am going to ask you how you can sit here on a computer using electricity lecturing on why cars are bad because they use up fossil fuels, fuels which are very likely being used to power the computer you are on.

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.

People also needed skills to

People also needed skills to ride a horse. A horse is not a machine. Its capable of its own free will. Per logic, a horse rider should have more of a reason to be licensed, and the horse registered, than a car, which responds about perfectly in a predetermined way to a user's input.

Please come join my forum if you're not a trendy and agree with my points of view.

As a driving instructor of 25+ years....

I'm on the fence with this.
On the one hand, we all have the freedom to travel as many have pointed out in the posts below; this doesn't necessarily mean travelling by car. Have a state-mandated driver's license is crap and something I associate with a police state. However, on the OTHER hand, the operator of the motor vehicle needs to possess the skills necessary for safe travel. I hate sharing the roads with folks who are incapable of walking and chewing gum at the same time, yet there they go barreling down the highway in a 2-ton machine without the proper education or eye-hand coordination to do so safely...I know, I've instructed MANY people over the years that SHOULD NEVER get behind the wheel!!! They are simply not coordinated enough, don't understand physics enough, aren't spacially aware of themselves and their surroundings...dangers to themselves and everyone else including YOUR family.
So....how do we police this? How can we, without "government" intrusion, effectively keep folks who can't or shouldn't drive off OUR roads? I haven't come up with a solution yet. Let me know your thoughts!
In Germany, for instance, a driver's license will cost you around $2500-3000 per year...no car, just the license. The taxes imposed upon those who do own a car are staggering!! So, only those who make lots of money drive...that isn't fair, either.
Tell me what you think can be done to get those on the road that should, and keep those off the road that shouldn't. I don't want to get T-boned by Pedro who just snuck over the boarder and is driving a $300 POS with no insurance...so there has to be some kind of governance. I just don't know what.

Silence isn't always golden....sometimes it's yellow.

"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them." - Patrick Henry

potential solutions to government licensing:

1)Holding a person accountable for any harm caused...or threatened. If one is observed to be a danger when driving, then another could bring an action against him in court.

2)Insurance could require a certificate of competency before issuing insurance.

3)Rental car places could require a certificate of competency before renting a car.


We can innovate our way out of this mess. It will take brain power and effort, but we can achieve individual liberty in our lifetime.

Forced licensing is extortion

Another party using violent or threats of violence to another into contract is extortion, a felony criminal act.

The roads are the People's roads. We the People is anyone who is within the geographical jurisdiction, so everyone else here has equal claim to use the roads; "OURS" is everyone here.

Only a valid cause of action through consent of one governed by law holding their own liability for THEIR allegations can be grounds for court action against another.

The only lawful pre-emptive steps is to improve transportation technology because pre-emptive action against another will likely breach their peace. If their peace is breached in the name of 'enforcing the law' then the victim of the breach will have valid cause to bring justice against the man breaching the peace but claiming to be enforcing the law. If action is not performed to bring remedy for the breach of peace then equal justice under the law is thrown out the window and 'law enforcement' becomes tyrannical because they can commit extortion and kidnapping under color of law with impunity.

The real boundary of the puzzling question is how do apply law such that no law violates any other law and no one can lawfully violate the law to uphold the law. When we apply these boundaries to the discussion then we can see that Freedom has problems and the real challenge. If we don't apply these logical boundaries then we ourselves will be paving the roads to hell with good intentions.

The most powerful Law of Nature is Time. It is finite and we all will run out of it. Use this Law to your advantage, for it offers you infinite possibilities...

I wish it were true but the government owns the roads

and the individual does not have a claim to use them (unless the government has allowed such a claim)

The roads SHOULD be owned in common by the people, and that would allow each individual a legal claim to use the roads.

Fraud cannot be converted to law

The 'government' does not own the roads. They may think they do for now but that is irrelevant in the face of real law. The 'government' does not own the roads because of the on-going fraud, extortion and warfare they are committing against the people. Criminal fraud cannot be converted to lawful activity.

The most powerful Law of Nature is Time. It is finite and we all will run out of it. Use this Law to your advantage, for it offers you infinite possibilities...

A RIGHT. Because roads are

A RIGHT. Because roads are public land and as part of the public you have a right to use those roads.

A right.

Car is a purchase you make personally. Property you own. You have (should have) the right to your property. And you have a right to travel.
You have a right to travel with your property.

I'd rather have a bottle in front o' me than a frontal lobotomy


Since it is a right we need to buy free cars for all the under-advantaged and those not willing to work.

I see a slippery slope...

Otherwise I agree - NOT A PRIVILEGE.

WE pay for the roads - not the state.
Therefore WE have a claim on the free use of those roads.

The privilege concept is elizabeth warren style communist propaganda.

Truth - WE pay WE own.
Propaganda - WE pay THEY own us.

government pays, government owns

that is the sad truth.

A right doesn't mean that if

A right doesn't mean that if it's something that happens to be a material thing that it's provided to all of society for free. Everyone has a right to water, hence everyone can go buy water, have it piped to their house, or drill a well. Just because society doesn't foot the bill doesn't mean that right becomes a privilege. The same applies to all of this "health care" ridiculousness. Everyone already has the right to go get treated for something, but not for free. The idiots are claiming that since it's not free, there is no right. No one is even being denied access due to lack of insurance. If you're in an emergency, you will be treated. It's the oath doctors take.

Please come join my forum if you're not a trendy and agree with my points of view.

There is irony in your arguement


Nope there isn't, or else you

Nope there isn't, or else you would have explained it. "Thanks."

Please come join my forum if you're not a trendy and agree with my points of view.

By the definitions

it is neither. (Although I'm sure Statists would argue it is a privilege blessed upon you by the government as are all things in life.)

AGGGG....!!! Frustrating....!!!

21st Century Laws....
21st Century Roads...
21st Century Traffic...
21st Century Distracted Drivers....
21st Century Rushed Drivers...
21st Century Insurance ....
21st Century Police...

Privilege or Right... I don't think it's either.

I think a car is a Tool.

Using a screwdriver is not a Privilege or a Right.
Using a computer is not a Privilege or a Right.
Using a lawnmower is not a Privilege or a Right.
Using a dishwasher is not a Privilege or a Right.
Using a boat is not a Privilege or a Right.

These things are Tools to help us do what we want to do.
And our Country's Constitution says we can do what we want to do....
....of course within the bounds of not hurting others while doing it.

I suppose if we were locked up in a jail....
....then the use of these kinds of Tools could be considered as Privileges or Rights...

But, we're not locked up in a jail....

this is the problem of not understanding civics

the OP (undoubtedly means) is traveling via car on a public road a natural right or a legal right?

A natural right is an activity that one can engage in without needing the permission of another. These are often referred to as "rights".

A legal right is an activity that one can engage in because the legislature has granted permission for it by way of statute.

rarely are natural rights respected by the legislature. Because the legislature wants as much power as it can grab.

Yes, all the things you listed are natural rights. almost none of them are recognized as such by the legislature.

Why does it have to be defined?

My question is simple, why define it as anything at all. If it is a "right" then it has to be granted to you by someone or something just like a "privilege". Why can't we just drive our car to the store when we need to, and forget about all the so-called rights, privileges, parties, and so on. Don't pay attention, and they will simply lose their power.

Nice. I agree. Overanalyzing

Nice. I agree. Overanalyzing is stupid.

The Act of 1871 made everyone

The Act of 1871 made everyone an employee in the Unite States corporation. Look it up guys.