Driving is Not a Right: It’s a Privilege
This is a common phrase that deserves more attention. I don’t where the idea came from originally, though most state DMVs and driving test manuals include something like that statement. I find the expression interesting for a couple of reasons.
1. The terms “right” and “privilege” were used interchangeably for most of our history. Even now, that is often the case. Take the privilege against self-incrimination or the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Many people, though, now think that there is a difference between those things as a result of this phrase.
2. How is driving different from entitlements? The state can charge drivers a fee for licenses, which is not true for a fundamental right like voting. If states waive license fees for the indigent, though, then a driver’s license is not different from many other rights. (I don’t know how many states do this.) Another thought, of course, is that you have to pass a written and road test to drive. How many people never manage to pass those though? Probably very few. If the driver’s test was like the bar exam, that would be one thing. Otherwise, the test does not seem like much of a practical barrier on driving.