Driver license costs half a penny a day; so why not just pay?

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These five pennies are enough to pay for the use of a state driver license for 10 days. A driver license costs slightly more than half a penny a day to keep updated. (Photo David Tulis)

A Tennessee driver license costs F$19.50 to renew and it remains “valid” for eight years.

That’s 2,920 days for a Class D license, or 0.6678 cents a day. Slightly more than half a penny per 24 hour period.

By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio

State government and police charge people criminally, arrest them and hold them in jail under bond for “driving on an expired” or “driving on suspended” or even on the specious charge, “driving without a license.” (No such charge exists; it’s actually called “failure to exhibit on demand,” which applies only to licensees, not to people who don’t have licenses).

Under the yoke of this license, police in Chattanooga, East Ridge, Red Bank and other towns cite travelers or arrest them because on the day they are arrested, they lack a document that would have required a payment of three-fifths of a penny to be valid that day.

A traffic encounter, especially if one is thrust into the jail and is forced to make bond, runs into thousands of dollars, especially if one engages an attorney.

A serious problem exists in whether it is just to impose such draconian penalties upon people even if they are under lawful authority of Tenn. Code Ann. Title 55, the motor vehicles body of law in Tennessee. Of course, it’s much worse to impose such disproportionate penalties on people who are not under that statute, which refers to probably 80 percent of the users of the highways and freeways in the state.

So what’s the problem?

If Tennessee’s demands for licenses among commercial users is so inexpensive, certainly that shows the state to be extraordinarily business friendly and mild. A half a penny a day for a Class D driver license, which lets you carry passengers and cargo in a motor vehicle up to 13 tons, is a pretty good bargain, considering such rapacious high tax states such as New York or Illinois.

The problem for people who love liberty is not the amount of money, whether it be a little or a lot. The objection is the false claims by the state against the liberties of the people, preserved for those who care in the Tennessee constitution. Since constitutionally guaranteed rights are not to be abrogated by rulemaking and compelling state interests at any point, our duty as a free people is to resist all claims against these rights. All true claims lawfully enacted, and all false claims based upon misuse or misrepresentation of the law.

Such is the operation today in 100 percent of the state’s counties, and in all of its city corporations that operate police departments. There is full support of courts for the status quo, and the lawyers who run the general assembly aren’t going to have any political challenge to their party’s control of the state and its police apparatus.

Defend rights, uphold law

Why fight? Why bother, when the dollar amounts are so insignificant?

It’s the principle of justice and of law. Who is hurt the most by the transportation law? The weak, the poor, the black, the ignorant, the immigrant and the hapless. Through Title 55, the cop has access to many people for interrogation, hassling, search and the like that otherwise he wouldn’t.

We fight and wait, we prepare and study, awaiting the time for the system to show signs of cracking. The only pressure upon the system is that applied by transportation administrative notice, which is a simple restatement of the law. It holds true to the ordinary law school basic 101 class concept of statutory construction. It implicitly rejects judicial activism that ignores the actual law on a main aspect regarding it.

And that is its scope. Its subjects. Its parties to be made to bow before it. The notice realizes the system is broken, and it works in that part of the system most amenable to improvement. That is the individual officer encountering the individual traveler in car or truck. At that level the reform starts.

Demanding 0.6678 cents a day to use the road for transportation certainly isn’t too much.

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