Florida International Driving Permit law deferred but AA says travellers should still carry one
Following pressure from the AA the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) has issued a statement saying that it is deferring enforcement of a new law that requires all visiting drivers to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP), even those from English-speaking countries.
However, AA International Motoring Services say that car hire firms are likely to ‘play safe’ and still demand an IDP so all travellers to Florida should obtain one before travelling.
The Governor of Florida repealed this law on 2 April, however, car hire companies and insurance companies can impose their own terms and conditions so you should check with your intended hire/insurance company prior to travel or obtain an IDP as a precautionary measure.
The law was intended to ensure that foreign-language driving licences could be verified by police officers and Rosie Sanderson, head of the AA’s International Motoring Services team, says that English language licences should have been excluded from the legislation.
But although the law was introduced on 1 January 2013, it was not well publicised. It was only when a British traveller finding that their standard UK driving licence was no longer sufficient to hire a car, alerted the AA that the issue came to light. Even the AAA, the US equivalent of the AA, was unaware of the law change and it has now urged DHSMV to urgently review the measure.
The difficulty is that car hire firms are already refusing to hire cars to drivers who don’t hold an IDP and, while the legislation may not be enforced, the fact remains that drivers are still legally required to carry an IDP
Rosie Sanderson, AA head of International Motoring
However, Rosie Sanderson says: “I’m delighted at this swift response to the unintended problems that this extraordinarily ill-thought-through law has thrown up as the possible consequences for the tourism industry sinks in.
“My understanding is that the DHSMV meet only meet once a month so this regulation can’t be formally revoked until then.
“The difficulty is that car hire firms are already refusing to hire cars to drivers who don’t hold an IDP and, while the legislation may not be enforced, the fact remains that drivers are still legally required to carry an IDP.
“Travel agents and car hire firms will be very unwilling to enter a contract with a traveller who doesn’t carry the right documents because from an American insurance point of view , including car hire, there could be untold financial consequences in the event of a road traffic collision.
The AA’s advice remains that travellers to Florida should carry an IDP as a safeguard until the law is formally repealed or amended because, despite the welcome deferment of enforcement of the law, car hire companies are likely to want to act on the safe side and demand an IDP.
The AA has always recommended carrying an IDP to the US as there have been occasions when car hire or insurance firms have demanded one even though it has not been a legal requirement for English drivers. Car hire and insurance companies can impose their own terms and conditions.
Any driver planning to travel to Florida should arrange for an IDP immediately. The quickest way to do so is go to one of 88 designated Post Offices, which issue them on behalf of the AA (not all Post Offices issue them). You will need both parts of your driving licence, your passport and a passport-sized photograph and the IDP will be issued over the counter. It costs £5.50.
(updated 3 April 2013)