Driving on Public Roads: when did driving become a privilege?

Driving on Public Roads: when did driving become a privilege?

This is a discussion on Driving on Public Roads: when did driving become a privilege? within the Law Enforcement, Military & Homeland Security Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; A question for all you trivia types ... Q: When/how did driving (in the U.S.) become seen as a privilege, legally speaking? Seems to me ...

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Driving on Public Roads: when did driving become a privilege?

    A question for all you trivia types ...

    Q: When/how did driving (in the U.S.) become seen as a privilege, legally speaking?

    Seems to me that walking down the street is perfectly within one's rights, if one chooses to do so. Same with hopping on a horse, skateboard, bicycle or whatever. People pay their "taxes" (property, gas, bonds, other), and a portion goes toward roadway building and maintenance. And yet, transporting oneself via a passenger car has been deemed a privileged activity, somewhere along the line. Am looking for historical progression and legal justification, if anyone knows.

    NOTE: Let's not grouse about any politics surrounding driving. Let's keep our collective politically-motivate wit zipped, on this one. Let's stay focused on noting the historical and legal progression toward today's belief that personal transportation via a roadway is somehow "privileged."
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    FRANK J. KANE, Plff. in Err., v. STATE OF NEW JERSEY. | Supreme Court | LII / Legal Information Institute
    The ability of the state to regulate drivers on the road dates to the dawn of the automobile in the 1916 Supreme Court decision regarding Frank J. Kane v. The State of New Jersey.

    There Kane said New Jersey's imposition of a $3 to $10 registration and license fee – followed by a $5 fine when he refused to comply - was, in part, a violation of his 14th Amendment rights to “due process.”

    In an opinion written by populist Justice Louis Brandeis, the court held that the state's power was “...properly exercised in imposing a license fee ...”
    MILLER v. REED, No.
    In 1999, the 9th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, in the case of Donald S. Miller v. the California Department of Motor Vehicles, ruled that there simply is no “fundamental right to drive.

    “Typically, if a right is going to be limited, restricted or revoked, there must be 'due process' – the right to a hearing – and there must be a good basis for the revocation or restriction,” Lykins said. “The privilege to drive is a benefit that is extended based upon certain requirements being satisfied.”
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    The Constitution and its amendments fail to mention our inherent "right" to drive. I don't know how our forefathers could have overlooked that one. I suppose the same could be said about our "right" to fly a plane.

    But seeing as automobiles are much more dangerous than fireams, I'm entirely behind the state on this one. ;-)
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    VIP Member Array suntzu's Avatar
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    There is no right to walk where one pleases (interstates for example) nor is there one to ride a horse where you please or ride a skateboard or bike. If it is on public property the government can restrict by law what you can do.

    As far as rights? What is the difference these day.....I see them eroding anyway.
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    The right to travel is in the constitution however it seems to allow it to be regulated based on case law
    A good overview
    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freed...ted_States_law

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    So ... one's right to move about (travel) is sacrosanct, and one has every right to choose one's means of travel from those means available. But the people have the right to enact in their states statutory mechanisms to ensure safety and ongoing maintenance funding by via such generally-applicable steps as licensing, training, registration and fees to assure those things.

    Rights not enumerated/restricted at the Fed level are left to the People or the respective States. And the people via their states have taken steps to ensure a quality of travel they prefer in their states.

    Basically right??
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    Historically speaking, when automobiles began to appear in mass in urban areas pedestrians were getting killed left and right. Folks were used to horses and carriages on the street and had difficulty adapting to the new technology. Thus began the regulations in large numbers of travel.

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    Sometime around the invention of the term "classic car" maybe? Courts gotta have something to take away from you when you dont take care of your kids...i know for a fact that my "father" loves his Edsels more than me.

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    Senior Member Array Rotorblade's Avatar
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    Good question! I'm in my fifties now and the privilege thing has bothered me since I was 16. Privilege to me means you can have your license taken away on a whim.

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    VIP Member Array blitzburgh's Avatar
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    Dis you lose your license?

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blitzburgh View Post
    Dis you lose your license?
    Nope. Just taking exception to the "privilege" mentality. While the need for common rules-of-the-road, safety and maintenance standards are important, the "privilege" idea smacks of the sort of thing that gives us the willies when otherwise intelligent citizens begin eyeing things like chipping away at other basic freedoms (ie, 2A limitations on mag sizes, etc).
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
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    VIP Member Array Crowman's Avatar
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    More than likely it came about when governments figured out they could get fees and taxes.
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    Senior Member Array Caertaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccw9mm View Post
    Q: When/how did driving (in the U.S.) become seen as a privilege, legally speaking?

    priv·i·lege
       noun
    1. a right, immunity, or benefit enjoyed only by a person beyond the advantages of most

    It follows therefore that driving became a privilege the moment government imposed restrictions on the ability to freely do so. I don't know when that was and since it most likely varied by State there was in all likelihood several moments when driving became a privilege. Now if the question had been phrased as: When did driving become seen as a privilege as opposed to a right...

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    Senior Member Array CanuckQue's Avatar
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    What's the alternative?

    The main problem with libertarian principles (and driving) is the cost of failure. In general, we're allowed to do anything we can afford to do. If there're victims of our idiocy, then we are expected to duly compensate our victims. The risk of paying compensation therefore limits our actions. When it comes to shuttling at 65 mph wrapped into 2000 lbs of machinery - well, none of us can afford to compensate any accidental victims.

    This requires insurance. Once insurance is required (by moral logic), insurance corporations crop up and then, bammo! lobbyists are born.
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    Well, it's the theory behind anything that requires a license. In essence, it is illegal to do the thing in question, but the government can give you permission to do that thing by granting a license. So, I guess it began whenever the government started issuing licenses.

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