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It’s early morning Saturday and I’m driving to our auction. I stop at a stoplight and glance over at the car in the next lane. I have a license to drive, so I assume she has a license to drive? Like me, she’s driving in a state which requires a license to do so.

However, just because a state requires a license to drive, does that mean all drivers are licensed? My father would have said no, as he had me driving trucks at age 8 from our farm in Ohio to our other farm in Indiana. I would submit there are a fair number of drivers currently doing so with no current license.

Do auctioneers in license states always have the necessary license? They do not. Every day, in a good bit of United States, auctioneers work as such — including bid calling — without the required license or permit. How can this be? Don’t the regulatory agencies monitor for unlicensed activity? Do states monitor all drivers to ensure they all have licenses?

In both cases, it’s a matter of a lack of resources. Police and sheriff departments don’t have the workforce to check each driver, and since most have the required license, it would not be financially prudent to check everyone. Likewise, most auctioneer regulatory agencies don’t the resources to check each auctioneer at every event — nor would it be prudent from a cost/benefit standpoint.

Does it matter? One could argue that if “nobody gets hurt” then there’s no harm. Certainly, licensed auctioneers could argue equal protection (Fourteenth Amendment) and/or report such unlicensed activity to the regulatory agency, but without a license, would the agency even have jurisdiction? You can’t suspend a license that’s not been issued?

Some license law allows such departments to pursue “cease and desist” orders or take other action against unlicensed activity but they have to know about it first. Much of this unlicensed driving (auctioneering) goes undiscovered and therefore unreported.

Occupational licensing has been a hot topic lately and some states have sought to eliminate a considerable number of required licenses to work. Licensees typically push back sighting the benefits of licensing but I would not be surprised to see some auctioneer licensing be eliminated in the coming years.

We previously wrote about auctioneer licensing being good and bad … https://mikebrandlyauctioneer.wordpress.com/2009/12/25/auctioneer-licensing-good-or-bad/. We noted there that many states require a license while many others do not, and maybe that’s okay?

This really does remain a bit perplexing — auctioneer license in this state, no auctioneer license in another state, but an auctioneer license in this other state, but no auctioneer license in this state, but here, but not here, but here, but not here … if auctioneer licensing is good, why not everywhere? If auctioneer licensing is bad, why not everywhere?

In working as an expert witness in dozens of auction cases (litigation) I can tell you there’s clearly more malfeasance in non-license states than there is in license states. However, as we’ve noted, just because the license is required doesn’t mean the necessary license is always viewed as such.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services, and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.