*02/04/2013. This law has now been repealed in full and signed by Governor Scott. There is no longer any requirement to have an International Driving Permit when driving in Florida.
Well, we opened a can of worms with our exclusive story in Florida Homes and Travel about the new Florida Statute 322.04 and non-residents now needing an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Florida. Until January 1st 2013 (when this statute became law), holders of driving licences written in English (and in some cases just a Roman Alphabet was sufficient) were not required to carry or present an IDP to hire a car in the USA.
Under the terms of Fl Stat: 322.04 the following now applies to Florida:
A nonresident must have in his/her possession a valid driver license from another state or territory of the U.S. or an international driving permit issued by his/her country of residence and a valid license from that country.
This change in the law has been little publicised up to now and the car rental companies currently appear to have no knowledge of the requirement and are certainly not asking for customers to demonstrate that they have an IDP.
However, the law is quite clear, and we have now clarified with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, that should drivers of rental cars in Florida be involved in an accident, or traffic offence or any other reason for interaction with the Florida Highway Patrol, they will be required to have an IDP in their possession.
We have received this information directly from the Deputy Communications Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles:
“Customers that wish to drive in Florida without obtaining a Florida driver license will be required to have an International Driving Permit to accompany their out-of-country license. This applies to any vehicle, including rental vehicles. The International Driving Permit must be in the customer’s name and from their country of residence.
This is the information from the Florida Statutes:
322.04(c)(1)Persons exempt from obtaining driver license-
(c) A nonresident who is at least 16 years of age operating a motor vehicle of the type for which a Class E driver license is required in this state if the nonresident has in his or her immediate possession:
(2) An International Driving Permit issued in his or her name in his or her country of residence and a valid license issued in that country.
When did the law change, and why? January 1, 2013. The purpose of the permit is for the English translation. Obviously, a license issued in the UK is already written in English, so the permit is admittedly a little redundant but that is technically the law at this point.
What will happen to British drivers who drive without an IDP?
Without an IDP, a driver is therefore driving without a valid license and if stopped, law enforcement has the option of
1/ arresting the driver and taking him/her to jail
2/ giving the driver a citation with a mandatory court appearance.”
International Driving Permits can be obtained in Great Britain from larger branches of the Post Office for just £5.50. Postal versions are available via the RAC or AA for slightly more if that is more convenient. The IDP lasts for 12 months, and the start date can be delayed for up to 3 months.
*Update from Florida’s DHSMV posted online 14/02/13:
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.
Update from Visit Florida posted online 20/02/13:
Enforcement of a new Florida law regarding International Driving Permits is suspended pending a legal review. However, questions remain about the statute’s impact on car rentals and insurance coverage.
On Feb. 14, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles suspended enforcement of Florida Statute section 322.04, which states that international visitors driving in Florida must not only possess a valid driving license issued in their home country but also an International Driving Permit.
International travelers should consult with an in-country travel professional for guidance and updates about IDPs, car rentals and insurance coverage.
Currently, this Statute is still law, and until this law is changed/repealed by the Florida Legislature, we strongly advise all international drivers heading to Florida to obtain an IDP, or get written clarification from their travel insurance provider that they will be covered for claims if they do not hold an IDP.
Any further updates will be found on our International Drivers Permit Florida update page.