L. Neil Smith's
Number 199, November 18, 2002


To DMV or Not To DMV?
by Rodney Harris

Exclusive to TLE

I just moved recently and, along with informing my friends and the magazines I subscribe to of my new address, I had the pleasure of going to the DMV. While standing in a line that went out the door, I had time to think. (It could be dangerous to let me think too much!) My first thought was about how the day before I went to AAA (a club I choose to belong to) to get a map so I could find the DMV. When I walked in to AAA, the information counter had a big friendly sign (in neon in fact) to tell me where to start and no line. I asked for a map, was given one and asked if I needed any thing else, and was out of there in less than a minute. My second thought at DMV was: WHY? Why do we have a DMV? Why do we have driver's licenses? Why are the people in there making me stand out here? Why am I paying them?

In theory, if the State owns the roads (different topic - don't get me started!), then they can tell us who can drive on them or not. They do this by a system of licenses that almost everyone gets. Why not, I thought while standing in the sun, just let everyone drive without a license and just keep a list of unsafe drivers who are not allowed to drive on the roads. As it is now, if you lose your license you can still drive. You just get bigger penalties if you get caught. If you decide to run through red lights on your way home and a cop sees you, you get a ticket (or worse if you caused an accident). Why do you need a license? The State claims that it is to make sure we only have safe drivers on the road. They require you to go through State sponsored training and take a State test to prove that you are a safe driver. Well, what's to stop you from driving after you have been declared "unsafe" and not been given a license or had your license taken away. The same thing that would stop you if no one needed a license and you were on the not-to-be-driving list. It's the same with murder. You can kill all the people you want - until you get caught. The State doesn't make us get a "non-murderer" license (yet). They just assume that you are good until proven otherwise.

Think of all the money that we could save if we got rid of the DMV and licenses altogether. No traffic laws would need to be changed. The only difference would be that instead of losing your license you would just be put on the not-to-be-driving list with added penalties if you should get caught driving again. This new system would have the same effect on safety as the old one with a lot less headaches, hassles, and cost for the majority of us good drivers.

Of course, the State would lose its ability to track us citizens if we did not have licenses. The drivers license has become the identification of choice. You can use it when buying beer, to get into a bar, to get past the three sets of bouncers at the airport. As any high school kid can tell you, a fake ID is the ticket to a fun night out and they are available from anyone with a good printer and a laminator. This fact should make you feel safer at the airport now.

There are legitimate uses for ID. I like the fact that I have to show my ID to a merchant when I'm using my credit card. If someone steals my card, they have to make a fake ID first before they can use it, which, in theory, should give me enough time to cancel my card. There will always be a demand for a simple ID, which can be presented when needed to prove that you are you. Whether you chose to use a credit card with the required showing of an ID, or you prefer cash is up to you and the merchant. The only reason for the State to require an ID is for citizen tracking and bureaucracy-job creation. It is time to end this senseless waste of time and money and get rid of the license requirement.

The only problem with this proposal is that with the removal of state issued drivers licenses, there might be more of a demand for a national ID. The feds will want the citizen tracking capabilities given up by the states. At least the de facto national ID card, the Social Security card, is easy to fake. Imagine trying to get a job, board a plane, or buy a beer with a new-improved un-fakable national ID when someone in the bureaucracy doesn't like you and "loses" your records. One wonders if not being able to buy a beer will be the last straw before people stand up to this madness.


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