France Is Freer Than the US

Americans talk a lot about freedom but have less of it in many ways than people do in other countries.

France, for instance.

Over there, you can legally buy and drive a car without a license – sans permis – which is something that’s very illegal to do here.

In France there is a whole class of cars – everything from clapped out Hoopties to brand new and warranted – that are not only legal to drive without any kind of government-issued permission slip or ear tag (as here) you don’t even have to be sixteen- years-old to do so.

You can drive a voitures sans permis – a “car without a license” – at fourteen and not have to worry about being hut! hut! hutted! by a gaggle of tacticooled and buzz-cut armed government workers. It’s all perfectly legal. The only requirements are that you pass a cursory written exam about French traffic laws and attest that you have “driven accompanied for a minimum of four hours.”

Proof of this is not required.

Jay Hamilton
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It is generally assumed that if you are driving, you probably already can. Thus, you are left alone unless you cause a problem. A real problem, as opposed to a manufactured one, such as not having a government-issued permission slip. If you crash, if you hurt someone (more than just their feelings) then you’ll deal with the gendarme. Otherwise… not.


These VSPs are small – and not very powerful. They are restricted to a top speed of about 30 MPH. But unlike say a scooter – which you can still legally operate here in the land-of-the-less-and-less-free without a government permission slip – the VSP is a car, enclosed and protected from the weather.

Put another way, the…

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