Driving a motor vehicle on a public highway is a privilege and not an unrestrained natural right. The state requires the obtaining of a license from those who want to exercise the privilege. The registration of vehicles is required since vehicles are allowed to be driven in a public place only after registration by the registering authority. Registration of vehicles servers as identification of vehicles and as a source of state revenue[i].
In the U.S., the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is a state-level government agency that administers vehicle registration and driver licensing. Vehicle registrations and certificates of title are governed by separate statutes and serve distinct purposes.
It is illegal for any person to operate a motor vehicle on state’s roads or highways unless the vehicle is registered. Driving without a license is a misdemeanor[ii].
An owner’s failure to register a vehicle required to be registered in the State of Connecticut is an infraction. “A person failing to register a motor vehicle in accordance with this section shall be fined not less than one hundred fifty dollars nor more than three hundred dollars[iii].”
A city’s common council has the authority to control, prescribe, and regulate the manner in which highways, streets, avenues, lanes, alleys, and public grounds and spaces within the city are to be used and enjoyed. The words ‘to control’ and ‘to regulate’ imply to restrain, to check, to rule, and to direct. The power to do these implies the right to license, as a convenient and proper means to that end. By this means, persons or occupations to be regulated are located and identified and brought within the observation of the municipal authorities. So that whatever regulations are made concerning them can be more easily and certainly enforced. A provision requiring one operating an automobile on the street to display thereon a number furnished by the municipality is not an unreasonable search[iv]. Regulations that are formulated within the state’s police power are presumed reasonable absent a clear showing to the contrary[v]. A licensing feature, while designed to promote safe driving upon the highways, is a device for the more efficient enforcement of the many and varied police regulations that govern the use of highways.
A state statute exacting a reasonable permit fee for the privilege of transporting motor vehicles over highways of the state for purpose of sale, which applies alike to all automobiles transported for sale, whether moving intrastate or interstate, does not impose an unconstitutional burden on interstate commerce. A state law exacting a fee for the privilege of transporting motor vehicles on their own wheels over the highways of the state for purpose of sale is consistent with the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, and the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
[i] In re Males, 999 F.2d 607, 612 (2d Cir. N.Y. 1993).
[ii] Miami v. Aronovitz, 114 So. 2d 784, 786 (Fla. 1959).
[iii] Conn. Gen. Stat. § 14-12a.
[iv] Detroit Citizens’ S. R. Co. v. Board of Public Works, 126 Mich. 554, 556 (Mich. 1901).
[v] Bettey v. Sidney, 79 Mont. 314, 319 (Mont. 1927).