Back in February of this year, a new legislation was ushered in by the State of Florida. The law stated that any foreign visitors wishing to drive in Florida must carry an International Drivers Permit(IDP). The IDP was to be purchased for $5.50 and presented alongside a legitimate Drivers Licence. Lots of British holiday makers were affected by the ruling as very few announcements were made, ruining plans and leaving people unable to hire cars. The more serious implication was that any foreign tourist found without the IDP faced serious penalties, including jail terms.
This came as a surprise to many. Not only was the news barely broadcast to the British public, but many travel agents and providers were unaware too, meaning that they could not inform their clients of the changes. What's more, to obtain this permit, drivers had to collect their IDP from a UK Post Office and less than 1% of Post Offices made them available for purchase.
It was said that some car rental companies were not enforcing the law, however, there could have been complications if tourists had been involved in an accident and needed to claim from their insurance. Not all companies were taking chances though. Elle Hubbard of the rental broker Trip Wheels said:
"We had hoped that perhaps there might be a grace period for leniency shown given that many tourists will be already in Florida and unaware of the new rules. However, we were told 'Law enforcement is there to enforce the laws, we are not selective nor can we disregard the law."
A Strange Move?
Florida has the largest influx of tourists in the US, so for them to introduce a rule which would cause such confusion and unrest among travelers was strange. The law had been introduced to aid validating licenses written in a different language. However, UK nationals, Canadians and Australians make up the largest percentage of tourists. Fortunately, the law has now been overturned by the state Governor.
The Good News
The good news is that you now no longer require an IDP to be able to drive in Florida; the bad news is that because of the confusion that has been caused, there may still be rental companies that ask for the permit. If you are visiting the Sunshine State you may not want to risk travelling without one, but the least you should do is contact rental companies in advance and enquire about their policies.
Source: The Independent Online