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Authorities Refuse to Enforce New International Drivers Permit Law in Florida

The Florida Highway Patrol said the new law, which requires international drivers to obtain a $25 permit to drive in Florida, could violate the Geneva Convention.

ST. PETE, FL -- Some local law enforcement agencies, including the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, have announced they are not going to enforce a new state law requiring international drivers to obtain a $25 driving permit to drive in Florida.

The new law was suppose to go into effect on Jan. 1, but authorities fear the new law violates the Geneva Convention on road traffic.

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles issued a statement Thursday afternoon

"During the 2012 legislative session, the Florida Legislature amended section 322.04, Florida Statutes, to require visitors from outside the United States to have an International Driving Permit in order to drive lawfully in Florida. This change took effect Jan. 1, 2013.

It has come to the Department's attention that this requirement may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949), an international treaty to which the United States is a signatory. Treaties to which the United States is a party preempt state laws in conflict with them.

Therefore, the Florida Highway Patrol will defer enforcement of violations of the amended statutory section until a final determination of the alignment of the amendment with the treaty can be made. Non-resident visitors to Florida who wish to drive while here will be required to have in their immediate possession a valid driver license issued in his or her name from another state or territory of the U.S. or from their country of residence. However, the FHP will not take enforcement action based solely on the lack of an International Driving Permit."

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office also released a statement Thursday stating it would not enforce the law.

"Until this issue is resolved, deputies will only require that motorists have a valid driver license in their name from their country of residence or territory of the United States," the statement read. 

We want to hear from you, St. Petersburg: Do you think the $25 driver permit fee for international drivers in Florida is fair? Join the conversation in the comments section below.

Fred Canuck February 16, 2013 at 10:09 PM
Any lawyers or insurance agents reading this? Here is the problem I see now....... The State of Florida realizes they made a mistake. They say the law will not be enforced. BUT, it is still the law untill changed by the legislature. Therefore, as a Canadian how does it effect my insurance? Technically insurance only covers legally licensed drivers and by LAW in Florida non-residents must have an International Drivers Permit to drive. SO, what happens if I have an accident in Florida and do not have an IDP?
Damon February 16, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Robin, I am going to have to agree with the comments read that you misinterpreted the article. Obama had nothing to do with this. Robin--you have to understand that Obama does not need your help in stripping the Constitution because he is doing a great job of it without your excerpts--but indeed this article does not fit your comments
Snaproll February 16, 2013 at 10:58 PM
Robin, either you have a problem with reading comprehension, or you're just simply not too bright.
Brad Weber February 16, 2013 at 11:10 PM
I have had to get a similar license to drive in foreign countries. Really just a tax to impose on visitors, rather than the locals. Will not stop anyone from visiting Fl that REALLY wants to drive there. What, you gonna cancel a vacation because of a $25 'tax'? and ignore all the state and locxal taxes that go on every hotel room?
Snaproll February 16, 2013 at 11:12 PM
Then you think, obviously, that Americans visiting other countries should have a version in the local language ? If you were touring Europe from Turkey to Belgium, say, that license would have to be in about six or seven different languages.
Snaproll February 16, 2013 at 11:15 PM
This whole article refers to visitors. If someone from another country, or state, lives here, then sure, they have to get a Florida license.
Snaproll February 16, 2013 at 11:24 PM
Angela, if you move to Florida, whether it is from Alabama or Sweden and establish residency, as opposed to visiting, gotta get a Florida license. Check your facts.
Fred Canuck February 17, 2013 at 12:07 AM
I'm with you Jim, we gotta pay em too!
GP February 17, 2013 at 12:07 AM
If your policy is Canadian, you are covered without restriction. Your Canadian policy wording requires you to be legally licensed in your province of residence to meet the requirement. It is unaffected by any requirement such as the proposed one in Florida.
Fred Canuck February 17, 2013 at 12:19 AM
Good info GP, but I am still a little concerned as I am renting a car in Florida and my credit card (Visa) will be covering the insurance. I suspect reason would prevail, but these days you never know.
Ray February 17, 2013 at 02:01 AM
Hey. Thomas, how does YOUR foot taste? I did not fail to "get the facts. I simply mis-read the statute. But, at least I caught my own mistake. You only caught your own foot. You see - YOU did not get all the facts. I'm not a tea-bagger. In fact, I am a democrat! Nor did you pay attention to ALL of the considerations here. Morons like yourself make this so easy... snicker
Bob February 17, 2013 at 05:05 AM
my concern on something like this would be if they even knew what the basic rules were for driving in this country. Remember that in Europe and England and elsewhere in this world we have vastly different rules governing driving. testing them to make sure they can drive safely on the road is not a bad idea. if they have already proven that to get an international driver's license and not just one for their own particular country then this is a dumb law. if not then maybe this needs to be looked at closer.
Alain February 17, 2013 at 06:07 AM
I am Canadian and I spend over 12K dollars year in US, if the International driving licence will apply in Florida why I should visit your state? why I should pay 25$ more a year in Quebec to visit your State? your State don't need that monney?
Alain February 17, 2013 at 06:31 AM
P.S. in England, Japan and Irland they drive in right side.
Mike Barnett February 17, 2013 at 06:34 AM
Hey! If Obama said it is ok, then it MUST be ok!
Thumper February 17, 2013 at 11:10 AM
By the way .... The cost of an International Driving Permit in the UK is £5.50 plus two passport photos and this can be done over the counter at main Post Offices. I live in the UK but have a holiday home in Florida I shall be getting my IDP next week. I am not taking any chances!!!
david Millar February 17, 2013 at 03:26 PM
The driving test and driving standards in UK and Europe far exceed that of the US. Driving tests and tuition here is pathetic to say the least. This is just another SCOT tax.
FlElectra February 17, 2013 at 04:07 PM
The state of Florida does not get any money from the IDL, they would only get money if someone was to be fined for not having one if stopped. The IDL is purchased where you live. The issue here is Florida requiring one not Florida selling you one. I am always amazed at the comments generated by any topic... They get so far off base it is unreal.
Fred Canuck February 17, 2013 at 04:24 PM
You are right FlElectra. But it is Florida that is requiring visitors to go to the extra expense and waste of time to obtain an IDP. For Canadians, it involves the cost of having 2 passport photos taken + $25 fee to the CAA, and a monumental waste of time.
Fred Canuck February 17, 2013 at 04:26 PM
What on earth does Obama have to do with a law enacted by your own Florida legislature?????
FlElectra February 17, 2013 at 04:33 PM
You are correct Fred, our present "leaders" seem to be making a lot of very stupid and unneeded laws. My area in Tampa has a very large Canadian group of visitors and winter residents. I hope they all continue to enjoy Fl. I was in no way defending Florida.
Fred Canuck February 17, 2013 at 04:48 PM
Not at all happy about this but in Florida's defence you guys don't have a manopoly on dumb legislators. We once had legislation where I come from creating the Samuel Holland Institute of Technology. They had the name spread all over the place in signage, letterhead, etc. But when the school put in their first order for jackets with the school initials across the back, the legislature had to meet to quickly change the name. True story - no one can make this stuff up.
Peter J Dunlay February 17, 2013 at 05:23 PM
If anyone wants to know how America views "Treaties", just look at how our Government has used them in the past. Native American Treaties come to mind. Government only observes Treaties when it's to their advantage. We are a Sovereign Nation and Florida is a Sovereign State. There are those that want to change that so that we can all fit in the same box! Watch for it!
Mr Victor Hannah February 17, 2013 at 09:29 PM
I live in Scotland and have been visiting the lovely Sunshine State and it's lovely people once or twice each year for 14 years - next visit in April!. I have held a full driving licence for 47 years. The point is that this new law was not publicised and not mentioned on my car hire agreement so I could have arrived at the Airport and discovered that I could not hire a car without an International Driving Permit - so 3 weeks vacation ruined. Fortunately I saw an item on BBC news on Friday morning and started researching myself. The position now, as I understand it, is that the "new law" is still on the statute book but will not be enforced. It is, however, still a law and to make sure that there are no insurance implications for me I will have to obtain an IDP - which is only valid for 12 months so if I decide to vacation in Florida next year I need another IDP. OK it only costs £5.50 (about $8.50) and a passport photo but there are only 88 Post Offices in the entire UK that issue them and not very many of these are in Scotland. Most of them are in large city centres and if you have ever been in the UK you will know that car parking is not easy in any city and our Post Offices are the same as yours - stand in line for hours. It is just a hassle I could have done without. My car hire agreement states that I must produce a driving license in "Roman Script". In other words "in English" - surely your legislators could have found a similar wording for the "new law"?
FlElectra February 17, 2013 at 10:53 PM
An excellent point.
FlElectra February 17, 2013 at 10:55 PM
Love it !
Ralph Moody February 18, 2013 at 11:57 AM
One good thing, it shows the police how to spell 'Licence' Thanks legislators for making me take a half day from work to pick up something that looks like a 40s ration card.
Tom Tucker February 19, 2013 at 09:13 PM
Forget inforcement, doesn't Governor Rick Scott realize we are a state that relies heavily on tourism? Alot of Canadians drive here and do you really expect them to go and get a special license? I thought he was pro business. Idiots with nothing better to do.
JimR February 21, 2013 at 01:58 AM
Hey what is missing here besides a total lack of common sense. Obama is saying his priority is to grow the economy and get American's back to work. Well, Mr. Obama you should get this idiotic requirement for Canadian's to carry an additional driving permit. Those Canadian's contribute about $4 BILLION annually to the state of Florida, now, do we need to say how many tens of thousands of jobs that continues to generate in Florida. If you tick Canadian's off, and that's possible because Florida is not the last resort left on the face of the earth to get away to enjoy the sun. It is enough to really get the Canadian's po'd enough to change there mind on visiting Florida. The current cost for a Canadian to hold a Canadian passport for a five-year period is less then $100, but, the cost for them to get the stupid IDP driving permit for the same period would be approximately $350...that is enough to get anyone annoyed enough to go elsewhere. For over 90% of Canadian visitors they already hold a drivers license with photo and in English and all the IDP permit says is that this person holds a drivers license from Canada "in English" duh, no brainer. What a slap in the face to Canadians who help out the economy so much every year. FLORIDA - get the message out there that this IDP is not needed. Particularly, get the message to car rental agencies so that the Canadian's won't have an issue at the airport to rent a car...that would really get them going in the other direction.
JimR February 21, 2013 at 02:09 AM
Good points, but the cost of the IDP for Canadian's is like this: $25 permit fee + $10 admin fee +$25 approx for two photos which is about $60 per annum, or about $300 over five years. Consider further that the passport for five years can be obtained at a fraction of this cost. The difference is that the passport gives a security background and adds a great deal of protection when going through customs and security checks. Whereas all the IDP says is that I have a Canadian drivers license in English, duh, which my drivers license is in English if you care to read it. What a dumb piece of crap legislation. The state and governors office should insist on this being repealed fully and in the meantime get out the message, especially to the car rental agencies that people with a license in English should not be turned down from obtaining a rental car. As I said, if they don't get there act together people will go elsewhere because there are other resorts on earth with sun and nice areas. Get it together Mr. Governor.

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