Florida Highway Patrol Won’t Require Non-U.S. Drivers to Carry International Driver’s Permit

By Kirsti Correa

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) announced Feb. 14 that the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) will not enforce a law that requires non-U.S. residents to carry a valid International Driver’s Permit (IDP) in addition to a valid license from their home country when driving a rental car or their own vehicle in the state.

Florida Statute 322.04 quietly went into effect on Jan. 1 to prevent law enforcement officers from being handed documents they could not read, according to state officials. However, the law conflicts with the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic. State laws are void when they violate a treaty to which the U.S. is a signatory.

“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,” the DHSMV said in a statement. “The FHP will not take enforcement action based solely on the lack of an International Driving Permit.”

The law was a concern for some international car rental brokers that help connect non-U.S. residents to car rental suppliers in the state, such as U.S. Rent A Car in the UK. On the company blog, U.S. Rent A Car issued several statements as well as comments from its car rental suppliers on the situation.

According to the Globe and Mail, Canadian travelers to the Sunshine State were up in arms over the mandate from the Florida Legislature. As well, after the Canadian Automobile Association issued a statement to its members about the requirement, which brought much media attention, it sold more than 1,000 permits in just a few hours before the FHP issued its statement.

The DHSMV and Florida Legislature plan to work together over the next couple months to make any necessary updates to the law. In the meantime, drivers are only required to carry one form of a valid license.

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