Further to the announcement yesterday on the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website regarding Florida’s requirement for an International Driving Permit, we just wanted to draw together the updates into one post for easy reading. The FDHSMV post is below:
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.
Whilst this statement made it clear that no tourists were going to be arrested or receive a citation for not carrying an IDP, the law is still (at present) in the statutes, so our next job has been to clarify the issue with regard to insurance. We were pleased to receive the following statement from Alamo today:
The car rental contract is with Alamo or National and the rental agreement is the customers certificate of insurance. If the customer chooses not to purchase the IDP this will not invalidate the insurance or customers liability.
We do prefer to deal with facts and traceable accountability rather than supposition, so we are hesitant to extend Alamo’s statement to all car hire suppliers, however, a Hertz employee has now replied on Facebook to a question posed about insurance coverage that:
The insurance coverage will remain the same
So far so good!
We are still awaiting a statement from the Association of British Insurers concerning the validity of British tourists travel insurance at the moment, but hopefully this whole nightmare is nearly put to bed. Now we just need the Florida Legislature to sort the mess out in March and get whatever bill is required passed!
An article in the Orlando Sentinel today has revealed that the law was an ‘unintended consequence’:
The requirement that international visitors have the added permit in addition to a driver’s license from their home country was part of a 105-page piece of legislation, introduced last year by state Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, that dealt with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Albritton said the disruption caused by the requirement was “clearly an unintended consequence,” and he was working to address the issue during the Florida Legislature’s upcoming session.
Another article on the Mail Online website refers to the concerns of the AA as to the issue of insurance:
“The unknown is what might happen if a UK driver without an IDP is involved in a crash because lawyers will point out that the law has been infringed regardless of whether enforcement has been deferred or not.”
And Rosie Sanderson, head of the AA’s International Motoring Services team, pointed out that although the legislation will not yet be enforced, drivers are still legally required to carry the permit.
This is the current statement from the website of the AA:
UPDATE 15 February 2013
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has since released a Statement from DHSMV on International Driving Permits. This says that the Florida law will not be enforced until a final determination regarding the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic can be made. Although the DHSMV states the law will not be enforced, theoretically this law still exists.
Consequently, the AA strongly advises that you should obtain an IDP if you intend to drive in Florida until the possible repeal of the law in March.
Insurance Update 19/02/13:
On Friday 15th February I contacted the Association of British Insurers with this question:
If a British tourist, not in possession of an IDP, is involved in an motor vehicle accident causing injury, or other claim on their travel insurance – is their travel insurance invalidated because they were not driving with a “valid licence” under the letter of this law?
Today I finally received confirmation that the ABI had received my question and were “looking in to it”. I asked if there was an indication as to when I might expect an answer and was told that there was no indication at all. I was advised that if anyone is concerned they should contact their own travel insurance company and ask them. I agree with the advice, but wish the ABI could be quicker with a response!
*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 *