Driving Rights & Privileges From the DMV

You might think that you have a right to drive on Connecticut roads. In fact, driving is a privilege granted by the Department of Motor Vehicles. As such, this privilege can also be taken away. Learn more about rights vs. privileges on this page.


Almost everyone can most likely think of some way that they have been affected by Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) penalties like a license suspension. One common misconception is that everyone has the right to drive. However, driving is considered to be a privilege, not an absolute right. To understand this, the differences between rights and privileges must be discussed. Read on to learn more.

What are the Differences Between Rights and Privileges?

A right is something that legally cannot be denied or taken away. For example, legal rights of citizens granted by the Constitution include the right to free speech, the right to practice religion, and the right to education. On the other hand, privileges are things that can be given, earned, granted, and sometimes taken away. Privileges are not guaranteed to anyone.

For example, some common privileges that citizens have are holding professional licenses for practicing medicine or law. Holding a driver’s license to drive on public roads is also a privilege that must be obtained and can be taken away. However, a person has the right to be heard before a privilege like a healthcare license or driver’s license is taken away. This is done by way of an administrative hearing.

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Because driving is a privilege, a person’s driver’s license can be taken away by the DMV for many different reasons and for different lengths of time. Usually, the DMV will suspend a person’s license for a few months and sometimes a year, and very rarely, will revoke a license for life. However, even in this situation, a lifetime revocation can be challenged and can be reinstated after a certain time period.

Dealing With the DMV

One way that the DMV can suspend the privilege of a driver’s license is through using a point system. The point system is where the DMV will administer points to a license each time the driver gets certain motor vehicle infractions. After a certain amount of infractions has accumulated, the DMV will suspend the privilege of having a license.

A very common reason for a license suspension is when the DMV is alerted of a person getting arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Pursuant to C.G.S. §14-227b, the DMV has the authority to suspend a license automatically after failing/refusing a breath, urine, or blood test for blood alcohol content. This is because under Connecticut’s implied consent law, every driver has implicitly consented to a blood alcohol content (BAC) test, and if the driver complies and fails the test, the driver has violated C.G.S. §14-227b.

Although the DMV can suspend or revoke a person’s driver’s license, there is some argument that driving is actually a right that drivers have once they have met all of the burdens set by the DMV. This argument comes partly from the fact that the DMV cannot take away a person’s right to drive without giving the driver due process. Due process is the right to challenge the license suspension or revocation and be heard. The driver must be given an administrative hearing if the hearing is requested within the proper time frame allowed by the DMV.

There are other ways that the DMV reinforces driving as a privilege by placing burdens that are on the driver in order to maintain a valid driver’s license. First, in order to obtain a license, the person must be of legal age, take a written and road test and pass, and then pay the fees associated with getting a physical license.

Then while having a license, the driver must maintain that license by renewing it once it has reached the expiration date, as well as follow the rules of the road, obtain and pay for insurance, keep up with car registration, and maintain mental and physical fitness to drive safely. Only after doing all these things is a person free from getting their license taken away and being able to legally drive.

Getting Help

Although driving can be taken away from a person, there are ways to challenge it and attempt to maintain this privilege. If you have had your license revoked or suspended by the DMV, you will need a good lawyer who can help defend against a license suspension and protect your privileges. Call Lady DUI today to speak with a lawyer who can help you.

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