Do we need a license not to drive?


Do We Need a License Not to Drive?

Aya Katz

I was checking my rural mailbox, to see if there was any mail in there. I don’t receive most of my mail here. Most of my mail accumulates in a post office box, and I have to drive quite a distance to pick it up once a week. This is a good thing, because the mailbox that stands at the entrance to my property has had a bullet hole shot right through it. Looks like the bullet entered from the south and came right out the other side proceeding north bound. Any mail that gets deposited would become soggy in no time at all.

No, I don’t know exactly when that happened. I noticed it a couple of months ago, and I have not done anything about it, being preoccupied with other things. I mentioned the hole in mailbox to a local person, and they told me it was probably children who did it. “You know, sometimes they just drive by, shooting.” And then he shook his head at the folly of youth.

Okay. So, anyway, I checked my mailbox and there was this postcard from the Missouri Department of Revenue, Driver License Bureau. It said: “Your nondriver license fee will be $11.00.”

Now, I was a little bit confused for a moment, and then I checked the name on the card. It was not addressed to me. It was meant for a friend who had stayed with me for about six months seven or eight years ago. She was here on a tourist visa, but since she was staying for six months, there were a number reasons to get a driver’s license.

She brought with her an international driver’s license which in most places would have entitled her to drive locally or to get a local license with very few hassles. However, here in Missouri, post 9/11, we were told that my friend did not qualify for a local driver’s license. Apparently, the new regulations had something to do with homeland security. Non-residents getting a driver’s license was felt to be a threat.

After many, many visits to the License Bureau, my friend and I gave up on the idea that she would be able to drive here. She didn’t get a driver’s license, and apparently she got a non-driver’s license, instead. Neither of us remember this part very well, because it never made any sense.

Apparently, my friend’s license not to drive in this state is about to expire.

I don’t believe in licensing people to do things. I would prefer it if the state didn’t have the right to demand that we have a license to drive. But this isn’t a hub about that. Let’s suppose for a moment that the reason a person is required to carry a driver’s license when he drives is in order to make sure that people who can’t drive won’t endanger the safety of others. What then is the reason for requiring a license not to drive? Who is endangered by our choosing not to drive? Who needs to be protected from us in the event that we don’t drive?

It seems to me that the driver’s license (and the non-driver’s license with it) serves some other purpose. There must be some hidden agenda here. Now what could it possibly be?

If we need a license not to drive, how many other things that we don’t do might not also require a license? A license not to carry a gun? A license not to build on your property? A license not to practice medicine? The potential revenue for the state from these licenses not to do things boggles the mind!

There is a perhaps apocryphal story that I heard when I was little about an Israeli woman visiting France. She wanted to get a fishing license, but was having trouble with her French. Instead of asking for a fishing license (permis de pêche) she asked for a license to sin (licence pour le péché). The government clerk of whom she was asking this replied: “Mademoiselle, in France, you do not need a license for that!”

Well, if this had happened in present day Missouri, it seems to me that you might have needed a license to sin, or, alternatively, a license not to sin, if that was your preference. It’s a case of damned if you do, damned if you don’t!

  ©  2010 Aya Katz

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