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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Driver's license, registration, and insurance

We are supposed to have freedom of movement in the US of A. See how long you can drive without paying the proper fees and possessing the proper paperwork. There are solid arguments asserting that none of those things are needed. Not one of them will impress a cop on the side of the road. You are welcome to make a statement and drive without a license and registration, but I'm going to pick my battles.

You don't want to bother with fees and papers? Fine. Get rid of your car. Of course, you might have to totally rearrange your life, but as the price of gas keeps climbing, you might have to do that anyway. Plenty of people get by without cars. They bike, walk, use public transportation, beg rides from people with cars, or move onto a boat. There are options, but all require lifestyle changes.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of public transportation. My lovely wife wants to take public transportation from my daughter's house to an appointment in Boston. It's about 16 miles. Driving in Boston rots. Parking is a pain. Even so, I'm hoping my wife changes her mind about public transportation. We'd have to take the bus and two subway lines to get to her appointment. The trip takes over an hour and a half -if everything goes right. We'd also have to get to the appointment a couple hours early as the connections wouldn't work later in the day.

Maybe I've figured the route wrong -I'm hoping that's the case. I really don't have the urban travel public transportation skill set. Maybe Google has led me astray.

Plenty of people bike everywhere they want to go. Nice, if it works for you. I could get a heavy duty bike, (I'm a big fat guy) add a good cargo rack, some foul weather gear, and be able to bike into town. It would work well enough for about half the year. Once the snows come, it's game over. Yes, I know people bike in the winter, but they are young, fit, and crazy. I don't see any around here once winter really sets in.

Bikes are banned from a lot of roads. They can't use the Interstate Highway System. Many bridges and tunnels are closed to bike traffic. There are bike paths that they can use that cars can't, but bikes lose a lot more travel area than they gain.

Another major concern is bugging out. Forget public transportation, even if it is available. It will work for something like a hurricane, if you leave very early. Good luck taking a bus, train or plane out of harms way at the last minute. Bikes may work for the young and healthy. They can weave their way past cars stuck in traffic. How about evacuating your frail grandmother by bike? For most of us, our private vehicle is our way out of Dodge.

Now I could see someone taking their car off the road, but keeping it well maintained and ready to go. During a hurricane evacuation, the cops will have better things to do than check out a vehicle's expired tags. That's fine in a situation where everyone wants to bug out and you are joining the mass of humanity. Now imagine if it's a threat that just a few people are aware of. Maybe you see a potential problem (civil unrest?). Then there is a high risk of gettiing stopped for expired tags. When the disaster hits, your bug out vehicle could be impounded and you locked up in jail. That's just where you don't want to be.

Of course, you could live on a sailboat. Sure, you need to have Coast Guard numbers. It's not all that expensive to get them. Driver's license? There are boating licenses in many states, but not all. Even states that do often have a horse power limit. If you have something like less than 10 hp on your boat, it's exempt. Insurance? There's no insurance on my sailboat right now. We sailed all over the place and even spent a few nights in a marina. Some marinas will ask to see your insurance papers, but not all.

For now, I'm keeping the driver's license, registration, vehicle inspection sticker and insurance up to date. All my running lights are in good working order. Those are the things that will get you stopped. If I'm breaking some other dumb law, I don't' want to get caught because of a stupid traffic stop.

I'm still driving, but keeping my eyes open for options. Once they start tracking every mile a vehicle travels, that'll be my line in the sand. At that point, all the freedom of driving will be sucked out of it. It'll be time to hang up my keys for good.



  1. Some confuse Driving with being a right rather than a privilege. Nothing is stated in the constitution about driving a car. Which are driven on public roads. So one must abide by the rules of the state if you wish to drive.
    Too many folks want total freedom without any laws to regulate them, that's called anarchy.
    If one wants to live and work in the system, one must abide by its rules. Or become an outlaw.

  2. Excellent post.

    I suspect that given enough time (decades), a special-interest group could change the whole drivers license/registration/insurance thing around by being enough of a sociopolitical nuisance that the laws are changed to accommodate them (read: shut them up).

    Such a technique, however, is too far removed from the paradigm of the usual UCC-vs-Common Law, constitutional rights crowd.

    While I despise the man's politics, Mao Tse-Tung was correct when he said "The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea." Taken in a modern-day context that means making sure you have the correct and up-to-date paperwork when you're driving, and looking just like everyone else when you're on the road.

  3. Hi Dad,
    I figured out a great route via train. One train and one subway. I'll call ya today. :)