Because It’s “The Law”….

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Most states now have mandatory”buckle up” seat belt laws. But – strangely, when you think about it – no state requires that a motorcyclist wear more than a helmet. So, on the one hand, you can’t legally ride around unbuckled inside an air bag-equipped 4,000 lb. steel cocoon. But you can legally ride a 170 mph sport bike wearing shorts, a t-shirt, no gloves or boots … so long as you’ve got a helmet on.

This isn’t an argument for mandatory “gear” laws. It’s just an observation about the inconsistency and arbitrariness of traffic laws.
Here are some more examples:

The legal threshold defining “drunk” driving continues to go down – it’s .08 BAC nationwide and groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving have been pushing for even lower standards, down to as little as .06 or even .04 BAC  – yet it’s an established fact that most alcohol-related accidents involve drivers with BAC levels of .10 or higher. This has been well-known for years. But instead of focusing on the hard-core, problem drinkers who are responsible for almost all the booze-related accidents, the authorities spend more and more time trying to catch people with increasingly trace amounts of alcohol in their system who haven’t actually done any harm and who – for the most part – aren’t likely to cause any harm, based on the facts about who actually gets into accidents. 

This is why we have “sobriety checkpoints” – because otherwise, drivers with slight amounts of alcohol in their systems would mostly fly under the radar and not be identified by police because they don’t drive erratically or cause wrecks. Their only crime, arguably, is running afoul of an arbitrary (because it’s based on politics, not science) BAC threshold that’s as unreasonable as the old 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit. 

Meanwhile, another irony:

While the anti-drinking (anything, ever) crusade becomes ever shriller, few states do much to weed out Senile Citizens – who, unlike people with .04 or .06 BAC are in fact the most accident-prone group of drivers after teenagers. Or tailgaters – who do their thing with near-impunity.

When was the last time you heard about a massive police campaign to go after them? Tailgaters are everywhere; enforcement next to nil.

Instead, cops go after seatbelt scofflaws and people who run 5 mph faster than the speed limit – even though tailgating is always dangerous, by definition – while “speeding” isn’t and not wearing a seatbelt threatens no one else.

Next up, driver’s licenses:  

American citizens get put through all kinds of rigmarole related to their driving privileges. For example, most states require proof of motor vehicle insurance; in Virginia, my home state, the DMV conducts random spot checks – asking that proof be provided of coverage of all vehicles registered to the person holding a license. If they catch you running around without insurance, severe monetary and other penalties come crashing down around your head – even though you haven’t caused a cent of actual damage to anyone.  

Meanwhile, Pedro and Jesus – who aren’t even supposed to be in the country – not only get U.S. driver’s licenses, they also easily escape the consequences of actions such as driving around without insurance and totaling other people’s cars – because they’re illegals and after all, what can you do? When they smash into you – or the DMV wants to see some paperwork – they just disappear. 

One set of rules (and punishments) for us. Another for the illegals. 

Me gusta!

Speed limits make no sense, either. 

You can be driving a stretch of Interstate highway, cross a state line – and even though the road and conditions are exactly the same, suddenly the speed limit drops by 10 mph. What was legal a moment ago is suddenly not. It has zip to do with “safety” – even though that’s the canned speech you’ll get when the trooper pulls you over. 

In 1994, the year before the 55 mph National Maximum Speed Limit was repealed by Congress, running 76 mph on the freeway in my home state of Virginia was prima facie “reckless driving” – because it was more than 20 mph faster than the posted max speed limit of 55 mph. Today, it’s only 6 MPH over the new legal maximum of 70 MPH – and a minor ticket.

Of course, the tens of thousands of “reckless driving” citations issued to Virginia motorists nailed for doing 76 mph or thereabouts during the Drive 55 era were not rescinded. Neither were all the tickets issued for doing 64 (or even 60) in a 55 – even though now the same roads are (once again) posted at 65 or 70. 

The money extracted from the literally millions of victimswas not refunded, either. 

Bottom line: Irrationality and arbitrariness is the defining characteristic of U.S. traffic law – and American law, generally. And arbitrary, irrational laws are a big part of what defines life in “Third World” countries – the banana republics we once sneered at but which we increasingly have much in common with.

Arbitrary laws punish Joe – but leave Jeff alone. Jeff likely has pull. So he runs under the radar. Joe hasn’t got a lobbyist in the legislature – or money to stuff the pol’s pockets with directly – so he gets targeted. 

This is what it’s coming to. We see it all around us – from the four figure “abuser fees” that New Jersey and Virginia tried to impose that crucified motorists over relatively trivial traffic violations while people who commit physical assault get maybe a couple days in jail – suspended – and a much smaller fine – to the current “click or ticket” harassment campaigns that henpeck unbuckled drivers … while bikers only need to put a helmet on. 

It’s enough to get your back up, if you think about it too much.

Throw it in the Woods?


  1. Absolutely right about the law favoring those who have pull. Here in the PRI (People’s Republic of Illinois)there is no helmet law for motorcyclists. The reason is that ABATE has a strong chapter here and does a great job lobbying the legislature.
    Auto drivers tend to be sheeple who submit and obey just as they were taught to by the public schools. So the NMA stays small and not very influential.
    The next step on seat belt laws will be to make them moving violations and start suspending licenses. And most drivers will meekly submit.
    Once individual liberties are gone, “might is right” is the only organizing principle of society. And it doesn’t take much knowledge of history to surmise what comes next.

  2. In Pennsylvania motorcyclists don’t even have to wear a helmet. It always drove me nuts that I, as a driver, was required to wear a seatbelt in in vehicle that was essentially a padded roll cage with airbags everywhere while a guy on a motorcycle could cruise past me on the same highway without so much as a pair of long pants between him and the road. And I like wearing my seatbelt. It was just the sheer arbitrariness of the law that got to me. If the law was truly in place to keep people safe, then why where people on motorcycles not required to wear a helmet?

    • Amen!

      My opinion: It’s about control – the flexing of power over others – not “safety.”

      This goes to the heart of a very important question that almost no one asks anymore: Whose life is it? The old-style American premise for legal action against the individual was: Does his conduct cause harm to others? If yes, then ok – the government (as the entity that exists to keep us from harming one another) has a duty to intervene. But if not, then the individual had the right to be left in peace, even if his conduct was potentially or even actually harmful to himself. After all, it’s himself – his life, his body. Whether you agree with his actions is irrelevant. It’s not your concern. You live your life, let others live theirs.

      This idea has been upended. We now – many of us – assert what amounts to a property interest in other people. Your person is no longer yours. It is – in principle – the chattel of the state; to put a finer point on it – the chattel of those who control and administer state power.

      If a claim can be made that “x” is “unsafe” (even if the alleged risk is theoretical/potential – such as not wearing a seatbelt) then the state asserts its right to force you to change your behavior in accord with its wishes.

      This is slavery by degrees, so to speak. Once you accept the premise, the extent of your eventual slavery is destined to be complete.

      Either we own ourselves – or we don’t. There’s no in-between.

      But most Americans don’t even think to ask the question…

      • I hope you dont take this in a sarcastic manner…but i think much of what you describe, talk about etc…are lots of contradictions…or merely theoretical abstractions. I do the same thing.
        For instance…”the government (as the entity that exists to keep us from harming one another)”: this is the theoretical conception of government that thinking people WISH existed. Or it is government how we beleive it should work. The thing is though…it doesn’t work anywhere on earth in this manner.
        So. You and I both know that we cannot operate thinking this assumption on OUR view of what government will ever come to fruition, so then we must move on. If we own our selfs. If the state does not own us, which it cannot because we do not believe it, accept it, as it is, then it is a time to forget all that comes with the ideas of said “state” to which we no longer subscribe to.
        All boundaries established, such as, America, Canada, Europe, China, establish, are Masters that control their people, ie slaves, ie make them do what they say to do. Well, i am not owned, i own myself, so I am, nor have I ever been an american, canadian, ethiopian, whater. So it then follows that if all the other people, who do not own themselves, rather they are owned by the state they DO SUBSCRIBE to, are all assemblages of zombies, robots, brainless automatons. So i would care not if members from other nations come into this boundary called “amerika,” in order to be here and do whatever it is that makes them want to be here. I will not care if people who are here which happen to be colored black happen to receive money from the government that is not really theirs, because they are playing by the rules of the system. They do that because they are more owned than they have ever been throughout their history.
        I do not care because I do not play by those rules, laws, whatever. And I get the feeling that this is the sentiment that deep down you want to express too eric, and maybe even dom.
        Would I rather have it that government worked the way it is supposed to? Of course. But thats the exact pipe dream as all foreigners leaving this island called america and going back to their countries, or the government that does exist here, actually learning how to be fiscally responsible.
        We can complain all we want. And we can try our damndest to try and explain proper logic to clovers,but why? Is it because we are scared of what we must actually do? Which is to quit subscribing to any systems that make us owned by someone other than our selfs.
        the laws will never stop multiplying. nor will the cops. nor will the taxes.
        fuck the clovers,obviously. fuck suits who try to tell you what to do. fuck people who dress up in blue uniforms and wear shiny badges that think they can change my way of thinking.
        there’s not many americans that think this way. nor is there many people in the whole world that think this way.
        let me know when you understand what ive said…because i think you already do….

        • Some people – a very few people – could live without the state (organized force), dealing with one another on the basis of voluntary cooperation, etc. So I’m sympathetic to the anarchist ideal.

          But I’ll settle for a minimalist government that confines itself to dealing with people who aggress against others (the Libertarian ideal). Not “helping” them, not “improving” them – just making sure that people who can’t keep from stealing, defrauding, threatening or harming others are separated out from the rest of society and dealt with appropriately.

          That was the basic idea behind the Revolution (if not the Constitution). And it’s an idea I can get behind!

          • yeah, but that idea will NEVER come to fruition, because of several obvious facts. there are too many people on this planet to support a libertarian government. you cannot overthrow governments anymore.
            it is not an anarchist ideal either. it is simply like you said, either you “own yourself or you don’t” theres no middle ground.
            in a world of 7 billion people, its nostalgic at best to believe the world can be anything other than it is.

          • “a minimalist government that confines itself to dealing with people who aggress against others (the Libertarian ideal). Not “helping” them, not “improving” them –just making sure that people who can’t keep from stealing, defrauding, threatening or harming others are separated out from the rest of society and dealt with appropriately”

            By its very existence even a “minimalist” gov’t has to aggress against others in order to exist to keep people from aggressing against one another, so it’s a moral inconsistency.

            And who is to decide what “dealt with appropriately” means? Complete strangers who know nothing about the defendent?

            Wouldn’t a more just and reasonable voluntary association be at the community level? No central or state level govt at all? For what?

            Communities know their residents, are small enough to police voluntarily ( Neighborhood Watch Programs ) and if someone doesn’t like one community they can move to one of a million others.

      • “Either we own ourselves- or we don’t. There’s no in between.”
        Interesting comment. I’d suggest we don’t own ourselves anymore by abdication. We’ve let them (i.e. govt.) encroach so far into day to day life that we rarely glimpse how much we’ve lost.

        For reference..see “Forbidden Property” by Grant Sterling at Amazon books. It’s worth the price just for the footnotes.
        To start finding the way back perhaps see Lot’s of info and explanation of what’s been lost.

        regards, neil


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here