is a drivers license a legal contract to give up my right to travel in exchange for a privilege to use my private automobile on the public road?
No, it is not a legal contract.
The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
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Speeding / Traffic Ticket Lawyer
It's unclear to me from your question how you would be giving up your right to travel by obtaining a driver's license. A driver's license is a privilege, not a right, and you have no constitutional right to a driver's license. You have no constitutional right to travel outside the United States, although the U.S. allows such travel if you qualify for a passport. You have a fundamental right to travel between the fifty states. Getting a driver's license doesn't mean you give up your constitutional rights.
This answer is given merely for informational purposes and does not create an attorney-client relationship. For specific advice, contact an attorney in your state to see if working together makes sense.
Real Estate Attorney
I found lots of legal citations to share that may put your citations into perspective. But as I have only limited space to answer here on Avvo, here is something to get you started:
See, State v. Skurdal (1988) 235 Mont 291, 767 P2d 304 ("This is obviously a growing school of thought which had been misguided.... The notion of right to travel remains wholly separate from the right or privilege to operate a motor vehicle on the public highways.") Please note that that the court made a point of discussing many of the arguments against requiring drivers licenses, and also rejected the argument that if the travel is not "commercial" or not connected to gov’t activity that it is not susceptible to regulation.
State v. Wilder, Idaho Ct. of Appeals No.â€‚28163 (2003), “In Adams v. City of Pocatello, 91 Idaho 99, 101, 416 P.2d 46, 48 (1966), the Court declared that the right to drive “is a right or liberty, the enjoyment of which is protected by the guarantees of the federal and state constitutions.” â€‚ Consequently, the courts of this state must regard the right to drive a motor vehicle on public highways as constitutionally protected. The state of Idaho may subject this right to reasonable regulation, however, in the exercise of its police power. â€‚Id.; â€‰Gordon v. State, 108 Idaho 178, 179, 697 P.2d 1192, 1193 (Ct.App.1985). â€‚ Therefore, the question before this Court is whether the requirement that one obtain a driver's license before driving upon the highways and, in the process, provide one's social security number, is a reasonable regulation in furtherance of the state's police power.”
Aptheker v. Secretary of State, 378 U.S. 500, 526, 84 S.Ct. 1659, 1674, 12 L.Ed.2d 992 (1964) ("The right to travel is not absolute"). It is well established that the Constitution permits a state to regulate the operation of motor vehicles on its roads. See, e.g., Bibb v. Navajo Freight Lines, Inc., 359 U.S. 520, 79 S.Ct. 962, 3 L.Ed.2d 1003 (1959); South Carolina State Highway Dep't v. Barnwell Bros., Inc., 303 U.S. 177, 58 S.Ct. 510, 82 L.Ed. 734 (1938); Hendrick v. Maryland (1915) 235 US 610 (“In the absence of national legislation covering the subject, a state may rightfully prescribe uniform regulations necessary for public safety and order in respect to the operation upon its highways of all motor vehicles -- those moving in interstate commerce as well as others. And, to this end, it may require the registration of such vehicles and the licensing of their drivers, charging therefor reasonable fees graduated according to the horsepower of the engines -- a practical measure of size, speed, and difficulty of control. This is but an exercise of the police power uniformly recognized as belonging to the states and essential to the preservation of the health, safety, and comfort of their citizens, and it does not constitute a direct and material burden on interstate commerce. The reasonableness of the state's action is always subject to inquiry insofar as it affects interstate commerce, and in that regard it is likewise subordinate to the will of Congress.”
Montana v. Turk (1982) 197 Mont. 311 (using the term automobile and motor vehicle interchangeably)
City of Salina v. Wisden (Utah 1987) 737 P2d 981 ("Mr. Wisden's assertion that the right to travel encompasses 'the unrestrained use of the highway' is wrong. The right to travel granted by the state and federal constitutions does not include the ability to ignore laws governing the use of public roadways. The motor vehicle code was promulgated to increase the safety and efficiency of our public roads. It enhances rather than infringes on the right to travel. The ability to drive a motor vehicle on a public roadway is not a fundamental right; it is a privilege that is granted upon the compliance with the statutory licensing procedures.")
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