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Why can't a twelve year old drive a car in California?

Carlsbad, CA |

I understand that it would jeaprodize public safety, and that driving is a privelege rather than a right, but you still can't get by age discrimination. One argument I've heard is that a person's rights can only be exercised to the extent where they are not violating/limiting the enjoyment of someone else's. Even then, you would be taking a statistic and looking at a group of people not as individuals. I just think some arbitrary line in the sand would be discrimination. I'm totally in favor of the current laws, but how are they considered Constitutional?

Attorney Answers 8


  1. Best answer

    The error in your logic is assuming that laws that discriminate are unconstitutional. They are not. You were close in pointing out that it is not a right, and discrimination does not come into play when something involves a privilege.

    With respect to claims of a law that discriminates on the basis of age, the United States Supreme Court applies a rational basis review. When the Supreme Court engages in "rational basis review," only the most egregious enactments -- those not rationally related to a legitimate government interest -- are overturned.

    DISCLAIMER The materials appearing on this website are provided for informational use only, and are in no way intended to constitute legal advice. Transmission or receipt of any information from this, or any, website does not create an attorney-client relationship, and you should not act or rely upon any information appearing on this website without seeking the advice of an attorney. The law is constantly changing, the materials appearing on this website are not guaranteed to be up-to-date. The application of law is dependent on the facts of each case, and no two cases are ever similar. It is important that users of this site realize that it is risky to assume that their case is identical to someone else's, without consulting with an attorney.


  2. Because the legislature says so. Driving is a privilege. That is why they call it a license. The legislature can set reasonable limits to whom they issue licenses.


  3. The State regulates license restrictions. 12 year olds are not eligible for licenses.

    Andrew Roberts (818) 597-0633/ (805) 496-7777


  4. Hey very interesting and total random question. Driving is a Privilege.
    When you look to discrimination you want to look at it to see if you are a protected class. In regards to age. A protected class is reserved for those at this time 40 years and older.
    In regards to your question... Why would you stop at 12 years old? wouldn't a newborn have the right to drive? And how exactly what the study be done to correlate the information needed? Age discrimination is not my area of expertise, but it is an interesting question. I hope some of my other More informed colleagues on this issue may have more details.

    This reply should NOT be considered a legal opinion of your case / inquiry. At this time I do not have sufficient factual/legal documentation to give a complete answer to your question and there may be more to the issues you raised then I have set out in my brief reply


  5. Best question of the week so far.

    Don't forget to check "Helpful" if I helped you out. This response is not intended to create an attorney client relationship and is based on the limited information available at the time of the response. Before acting on anything stated or referenced in this response you should consult with an attorney of your choosing and go over the specific details of your legal circumstances. My responses are also given in the context of the laws of the State of Louisiana. To the extent this comment involves principles of law governed by another state my comment merely reflects my opinion and should not be considered legal advice.


  6. Tell it to the judge!

    Law Offices of David Shapiro 3555 4th Avenue San Diego, CA 92103 (619) 295-3555


  7. Most 12 year olds are too short to see over the dashboard. This leads to accidents, etc. Plus many elementary schools lack the parking. If 12 year olds drive their parents' SUV's to the school, where will the beleaguered faculty park? What with staffing cuts, etc., it would be the last straw. We'd have faculty riots at every elementary and junior high school in this great land! It would result in chaos. Utter chaos.


  8. The government has the power to regulate activity that poses a threat to public safety and welfare. Allowing a 12 year old to drive...poses such a threat. Moreover, driving is a privilege and not a right.
    Please, do not allow a 12 year old to drive, when I am in Carlsbad I will be on the lookout for a car that looks like no one is driving it. When I spot that car, I will do everything in my power to avoid it.

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