Confusion has descended on Florida’s fly-drive market after questions were raised over an allegedly unpublicised law calling for British drivers to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP).
Travelers to Florida have been legally required to provide proof that they hold an IDP since the rules were introduced in the US state in January, despite car hire firms and holidaymakers being seemingly unaware.
Even the AAA, the US equivalent of the AA, is said to have not known about the law change and urged the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) to urgently review it.
Following additional pressure from the AA, the DHSMV today announced it is to defer enforcement.
But the motoring organization is still urging travelers to the Sunshine State to buy an IDP before traveling to Florida as it says many car companies are refusing to hire vehicles to British drivers who don’t hold one.
The AA says the confusion over the law could negatively impact tourism in the state.
“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.
“Travel agents and car hire firms will be very unwilling to enter a contract with a traveler who doesn’t carry the right documents because from an American insurance point of view…there could be untold financial consequences in the event of a road traffic collision,” she said.
Penalties for infringing the law in Florida are strict and if the rules are enforced, any British driver without an IDP would be regarded as not having a valid license, facing imprisonment or a citation demanding a mandatory court appearance.
As holidaymakers set off for Florida for the half-term holidays it is unclear whether all car hire companies will require the IDP.
“We were first alerted by a customer querying the introduction of the new regulation,” added Sanderson.
It is understood that the law was introduced in January because the growing number of visitors’ licenses that were not in English made it difficult for police to confirm their validity.
But licenses for Britons, Australians, Irish and all other licenses in English should probably not have been included, the AA spokesman suggested.
“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,” said Sanderson.
The AA says the fastest way to obtain an IDP is through a designated Post Office. Drivers need to present both parts of their driving license, their passport and a passport-sized photograph and the IDP will be issued over the counter. An IDP costs £5.50.
Article supplied by thelawman.net