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.

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, Pinellas beach communites: Do you think the $25 driver permit fee for international drivers in Florida is fair? Join the conversation in the comments section below.

david adams February 18, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Another Tourist Tax, why not? Better still, tip all Snowbirds upside down at the airport shaking out their money and cards and send them back on the next plane. Simple, then you don't even have to serve them. After 16 years it's quieter than ever this year but then it's very clear how much the costs have escalated compared to other warm winter resorts. Home prices fall rents climb every year. I'm glad BP is paying up, Do I think is many cases it's justified, no, but what they allowed to happen is deplorable and you folks should take them for every penny you can and yes, I'm a Brit.
JimR February 21, 2013 at 02:30 AM
I will never figure out how this amendment to the bill got through several readings and got passed into law. This is absurd. The IDP (International Driving Permit) does several things, none of which are good. It imposes an unnecessary cost on tourists. On average in Canada the cost of the IDP is $25 for the permit +$10 admin fee + $25 average cost for two passport size photos, totalling about $60. The IDP is good for one year so if you want it for five years it will amount to $300 whereas the Canadian Passport will cost less then $100 and be good for a five-year term. The difference is that the passport serves a purpose and security when entering another country. The IDP will only prove that I am the holder of a Canadian Drivers license in English, which gee, if I take it out of my wallet you will see that yes indeed it is in English - how lame and unnecessary is that. And over 90% of Canadian visitors will hold a license in English. All the legislation had to provide for was that all visitors must produce a valid drivers license in the ENGLISH language, full stop. There are over 3 million Canadian visitors to Florida each year spending collectively about $4 BILLION dollars and heaven knows how many jobs are generated. HEY Florida officials please heed this and get the message out and repeal this law. And get the message to car rental agencies that this permit is not necessary to rent a car. Don't refuse Canadian's a car rental for this reason.


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