Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 8:27 PM ET, 02/ 8/2011

Driving is a right

By Bryon Stiftar, Springfield

Although I agree with the writer of the Feb. 6 letter “More red-light cameras, please” that the cameras save lives and that those who object to them should simply stop for red lights, I must object to his quoting that tired old chestnut, “Driving is a privilege, not a right.”

Citizens have a right to engage in travel and transportation from one place to another on public roadways. This personal liberty, or right of locomotion, includes driving a motor vehicle. It is a common right that is made conditional for the good of the people. The state can establish control mechanisms for safety reasons, but once a persoern reaches a designated age and is certified as being competent in skills and knowledge to operate a motor vehicle without undue danger, this conditional right cannot be denied.

Of course, a system exists to punish (with fines, points, etc.) those who perform poorly, and there are suspensions and revocations for serious or repeat offenders. But the right to drive cannot be arbitrarily denied without due process or without proof that someone is failing to operate a motor vehicle competently.

By Bryon Stiftar, Springfield  | February 8, 2011; 8:27 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., traffic, transportation  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Ticketed by a camera
Next: Some Inclusion 101 for Va.'s 'exclusive' colleges

Comments

I just heard it on the radio that "Clearance Auto Insurance" offers auto car insurance for less than $1 a day for drivers, any one aware of this ? have anyone purchased insurance through them. I did search for them and found them online.

Posted by: mariashy | February 9, 2011 3:23 AM | Report abuse

I wish the author could have cited the Amendment to the constitution provides "the right to drive."

But then again, liberals don't let the Constitution or the Bill of Rights to the Constitution get in the way, do they?

Posted by: ahashburn | February 9, 2011 3:27 AM | Report abuse

"But the right to drive cannot be arbitrarily denied without due process or without proof that someone is failing to operate a motor vehicle competently.
" Yes, it can be. In VA, if you are old and a person claims that you are driving poorly, the state can suspend your license with no proof or due process. There is then a laborious and difficult process to get your license back which for an older citizen is almost impossible to negotiate.

Posted by: Falmouth1 | February 9, 2011 5:47 AM | Report abuse

@ahashburn. Really, can we stop with the moronic name calling and concentrate on the issues before us? I get so sick of reading these comments and hearing all the "liberals are eeeeevil" and "conservatives are eeeeevil" crap. That there is no constitutional right to drive might be because no one thought of it as being an issue in the 18th century.

Nevertheless, most sane people, of the right and left, would argue that people have a right to go where they want to, and that unnecessary restrictions on that right are against the spirit, if not the letter of the laws of this nation.

You might want to consider what's causing you to need to demonize your fellow Americans.

Posted by: JonParker | February 9, 2011 6:21 AM | Report abuse

JonParker - please cite the Amendment to the US Constitution that grants people the right to drive.

For a list of the Amendments, see the link below:
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendments.html

Posted by: ahashburn | February 9, 2011 7:23 AM | Report abuse

The author doesn't say that there's a Constitutional right to drive a car. He says, accurately, that citizens have a right to engage in travel and transportation from one place to another on public highways. That's an accurate statement. Can any of the mocking commenters point to any authority that contradicts this statement?

There are, in fact, many court cases striking down undue limits on interstate commerce, including border tolls. (You can google Commerce Clause cases on your own.) While I don't know this is what the author had in mind, he's more accurate in his statements than the sneering commenters.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | February 9, 2011 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Although personally I believe driving should be intensively regulated and is not an unqualified "right," please note the 9th Amendment: "The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." In other words, just because the Constitution doesn't specifically mention a right doesn't mean it doesn't exist. When will people get tired of this "Where does it say it in the Constitution, huh, huh, huh?" juvenile rhetoric?

Posted by: hoganandbligh | February 9, 2011 8:09 AM | Report abuse

It is a "conditional" right? So, it is permitted by the state and can be denied by the state for any reason they deem.

Sounds like double-speak. Remember, the income tax is also voluntary.

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | February 9, 2011 8:52 AM | Report abuse

WashingtonDame - The author does say that one has a right to drive a car. From the article:

"Citizens have a right to engage in travel and transportation from one place to another on public roadways. This personal liberty, or right of locomotion, includes driving a motor vehicle."

Note the the last sentence that specifically states that this right includes "driving a motor vehicle."

I will agree that the Right of locomotion, means one has a right to go where and when one pleases. But, to expanded that right to include "how one pleases" just because public funds have been used to build a public roadway does not mean that one has a right to drive that is similar to the right of free speech, to vote, etc.

As the author points out, driving on a public road is a conditional right. People have to have a pass a test to get a driver's license and have to have a car that is safe and registered (farm vehicles conditionally exempted) in order to drive on public roads. But won't you agree that when the government starts establishing control mechanisms or conditions on rights, it starts to be less of a right and more like a privilege?

Posted by: ahashburn | February 9, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

hoganandbligh wrote:
"The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." In other words, just because the Constitution doesn't specifically mention a right doesn't mean it doesn't exist. "

IMHO, the ninth amendment is less of a source of rights that haven't been enacted, but more of a guide about how to read the Constitution.

Posted by: ahashburn | February 9, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

IMHO, the ninth amendment is less of a source of rights that haven't been enacted, but more of a guide about how to read the Constitution.

- ahashburn
-------
So, some amendments are to be taken literally and others interpreted? Oh, please.

Posted by: ChuckinMtP | February 9, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

ahashburn wrote: But won't you agree that when the government starts establishing control mechanisms or conditions on rights, it starts to be less of a right and more like a privilege?
--------------------------------------

No. Our right of free speech is limited by Supreme Court decision ("The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.")

This does not mean we do not have the right to speak freely.


The right of free speech does not include

Posted by: Greent | February 9, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Hey Bryon [sic]! Will your homeroom teacher give you an extra star for writing a neat-o letter to your grandparents’ newspaper?

Question for the rest of us: Why would even a junior high school student confuse some imaginary “right to drive” with the right to break the law? Something in the Virginia water supply, I guess.

Posted by: SydneyP | February 9, 2011 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Oh pay no notice to Ahashburn (and Ronjaboy) for that matter! They are obviously neanderthal troglodytes who insist on inserting negative political labels into all of their comments and then--when you call them out on the nonsense of the label--ignore your point. They were rather silent for a year or so after the Presidential election and so I suppose that's yet another reason for the rest of us to hope Obama wins in 2012.

Posted by: commonsense101 | February 9, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I wish the author could have cited the Amendment to the constitution provides "the right to drive."

--

It comes directly after the right to oxygen.

really, you should realize that the US Constitution doesn't limit the rights of citizens. it limits the rights of government.

Posted by: zakany | February 9, 2011 11:42 AM | Report abuse

I have the "right" to make up a bunch of stupid rights that don't exist in the Constitution.

the "right" to drive
the "right" to nurse with an exposed breast in public
the "right" to leave inane comments like this one on newspaper forums
the "right" to pin the opposing political label on my enemies
the "right" to make up facts and statistic on the spot
the "right" to shoot first and ask questions later
the "right" to manufacture kooky conspiracy theories
the "right" to deny science and common sense


Yes, we Americans cherish our "rights."

Posted by: FedUpInMoCo | February 9, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Didn't ANYONE read 1984?

Posted by: madhtr | February 9, 2011 12:20 PM | Report abuse

No, you have it wrong, Bryon. Travel, in general, is a right, yes. However, the MODE of travel is a privilege. Flying, driving, taking a train or taxi, etc. are all CONVENIENCES (read: privileges) which allow you to travel at the rate or speed at which you wish to travel.

I believe the law that says that Americans have a right to travel means that we cannot be forced to stay in our home city, county, area, region, or state against our will (unless we've committed a crime in that area, and then it's a whole different story, because we've then forfeited that right).

We can cross those various area lines and limits within the United States and its territories without needing a document written by some government agency that says we're allowed to do so. However, if we don't follow the rules and regulations set out for our chosen mode of travel, then we have to choose another.

The red-light cameras in Virginia do not impinge on someone's right to travel, or even on their privilege to drive. They are a way to regulate the highways and prevent accidents which are caused by people who aren't smart enough to realize that reckless driving is dangerous for everyone on the road--not just the person doing the driving.

Without the cameras, Virginia would need more traffic police to do this regulation, and that state simply does not have the budget or the man power to do that.

Posted by: DASWillow783 | February 9, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company