If ny state vehicle statute declares it to be a misdemeanor for failing to update ones home address marked on the drivers license, punishable up to 250 dollar fine and or 15 days imprisonment, after more than 10 days of address change- does it violate the federal 4th amendment against unreasonable search or seizure of one's person.

It seems that to me if it weren't for the fact that one takes physical action to acquire the drivers license it would be in contradiction to the 4th amenent.

So if say this law applied for non drivers license, requiring one to have a valid ID, as well as current address, then this would be in violation, as given no other premises than the existence of a person and no further physical action a person would automatically be in violation and thus in plainest assumptions a person is not protected from seizure.

I understand that though the Constitution is a legal document, it's wording should be able to correctly navigate law given basic reasoning and logical rules that the layman can use.

  • I would put ny as tag but I bet similar laws exist elsewhere? Also if anyone knows of actual federal laws which either carry out the same kind of requirements that would be interesting also as I think would more regularly be taken up by supreme Court and rulings would be interesting to read. In reconciling some moral or philosophical problems I perceive with such laws. – marshal craft Jun 4 '18 at 21:14
  • I don't understand where search or seizure comes into it. Are you asking whether an officer can stop you just to check whether you've written your new address on the license as required by Vehicle and Traffic Law §505(5)? – phoog Jun 5 '18 at 14:45
  • Um seizure of 250 dollars and jail – marshal craft Jun 6 '18 at 0:14
  • And that not what I'm asking – marshal craft Jun 6 '18 at 0:15
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    Ok, I think I understand. In that case, the seizure of the money and one's person, if necessary, would normally be pursuant to one's having been found liable for violating §505(5) by due process of law, in which case the seizure would not be "unreasonable" under the 4th amendment. But it seems you're really asking about the constitutionality of §505(5), and that user6726 has addressed that to your satisfaction. – phoog Jun 6 '18 at 13:38

Since there is no search or seizure involved in having a driver's license, requiring a person to update their address is not a violation of the 4th Amendment. It is also not "testifying against oneself in a criminal case", so it does not violate the 5th. As has been repeated many times, driving is a privilege and not a right, meaning that there is no fundamental constitutional right to drive. Strict scrutiny would not render the requirement to have a license unconstitutional, and it certainly would not invalidate the requirement to give a correct address and update that address as necessary.

There may be issues regarding a requirement to produce identification, but there is no legal precedent for the idea that an ID law law and a federal "must show" statute would violate the 4th (that is not to say that the courts could not find there is such a basis if the question arises, but it has not yet been found). Since there is no national ID law, one can only conjecture what the outcome of judicial review would be, but if such a law survived strict scrutiny, it would be inconceivable that a portion of the law requiring you to keep your address current would fail such scrutiny. A curiosity search would still be barred.

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  • Okay, I can kind of see that because action was taken of a person, to take up a drivers license it's not directly going to go to the 4th amendment as easily which I had kind of figured. And so it would fall into the driving privilege vs. some what basic right which is probably not to be expected to be enforced. There are probably much more significant freedoms that could be fought for than right to drive car. – marshal craft Jun 5 '18 at 7:00
  • As for general ID type law, it would still seem to me direct violation of 4th. Though, regarding the general spirit of the constitution and it's validating document the declaration of independence, the protection of freedoms is a very hard to define thing. In general I could see that if requiring an ID, a minor infraction of one's rights, some how greatly advances rights and freedoms elsewhere, it is always a trade off, "one man's freedom starts where another ends" type thing. Then combining democracy and popular opinion another. Also this is all probably more philosophical too. – marshal craft Jun 5 '18 at 7:06
  • Also though, right to drive car still should have value whenever possible I think as it is probably significant area related to discrimination. Very easy to remove privileges than it is to remove rights. Well I guess this all off topic now, so I'll shut up now. – marshal craft Jun 5 '18 at 7:15
  • @marshalcraft even constitutional rights are not absolute; as you note, it's a trade-off. In evaluating the constitutionality of legislation that infringes constitutional rights, courts also have to look at the government's interest in the requirement being imposed. Even if you could identify a constitutional right that is restricted by this requirement, it is likely that a court would find that the state has a sufficiently strong interest in requiring licensed drivers to keep their addresses current. – phoog Jun 5 '18 at 14:38
  • Well I did identify a right. – marshal craft Jun 6 '18 at 0:16

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