Florida has deferred a new law that would have required all foreigners, including Canadians, to have international drivers’ licences (IDLs) to drive anywhere in the state. Revelation about the law, passed by the last session of the state legislature, caused panic among many Canadians, as well as other nationals, and overwhelmed the resources of the Canadian Automobile Association offices in Canada, which can issue such documents.
The law was passed with the intention of making it easier for troopers to read the many foreign language licences carried by drivers in Florida, and provide one standard English language version, but it appears little thought was given to the fact that Canadians make up the largest single share of foreigners in Florida at any one time. That legislators often pass stupid laws should not come as a surprise, but what did come as a shock was that even tourism officials were not made aware of the law—otherwise they would have opposed and probably had it killed.
In addition, the legislators didn’t take into consideration that the law would contravene international laws as articulated in the Geneva Convention.
As it is, legislators are expected to amend the law when they return for their next session in the spring.
Until then, troopers and other law officers have been instructed not to enforce the law.
“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 department said.
“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.”
So relax. Unless tourism officials are totally vacant: this issue is dead. And you need not fork out any additional money to get an IDL—at least not for Florida or any other state in the U.S.