AAA Requests Non-Enforcement of International Driving Permit Law

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AAA Release: AAA Requests Non-Enforcement of International Driving Permit Law

TAMPA, Fla. (February 18, 2013) — AAA urges all county and city law enforcement agencies to support the Florida Highway Patrol’s decision not to enforce a new state law. Last year, Florida lawmakers passed a law that requires international travelers, including Canadians, to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) before operating a vehicle in the state.

The law was designed to ensure visitors have a license printed in English, to ease translation barriers for law enforcement officers. However, the law went into effect at the start of 2013 and many tourists were caught off guard. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles decided to defer enforcement until further notice.

“AAA was very pleased with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ announcement last week, which went a long way to alleviate Canadian and other international visitors’ immediate concerns,” said Kevin Bakewell, AAA Chief Public Affairs Officer, The Auto Club Group. “We are working very closely with our friends at the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) whose members, along with other international travelers, are an important part of Florida’s number one industry: tourism.”

According to Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation, 12.6 million international travelers visited Florida in 2011 and spent $14.1 billion. AAA is working with Visit Florida, CAA, and various other tourism agencies to inform future visitors of the new law. Even though enforcement is currently being withheld, tourists are strongly encouraged to apply for an IDP in their own country, before traveling to the United States.

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to approximately 8.8 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 53 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

By: Mike Vasilinda

A new state law that went on the books sent panic across Canada this week and created fear among Florida tourism officials. No one noticed a new requirement that foreign drivers must have an International Drivers Permit issued by their home country beginning January First. Once the panic started, the state quickly backed down.

Florida has been front page news and a lead television story across Canada and the UK since Wednesday. One tourism official told Canadian TV on Thursday:

“They haven’t told anybody about this. We know for a fact they didn’t tell the car rental agencies in Florida about this.”

The concern. Not having one of these. An International Driving Permit. All foreign drivers in Florida were required to have one starting January first to help police understand a foreign language. Seems Lawmakers never considered English is the language of most of Canada and the UK.

Just over three million Canadians come to Florida every year. That’s almost one of every ten residents. Now is the most popular time to travel. Thousands were here before the law took effect.

Because so many Canadians are snow birds, even Disney started asking questions. The Panic that started Wednesday morning has been solved.

Kirsten Olsen-Doolan is the Highway Safety Spokesperson. She told us the law is on hold “while we figure out the language of it, they won’t be enforcing it. Folks just need to have a valid license from their country in order to drive in Florida.”

The state has talked with the Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Associations. All have agreed to defer enforcement.

Some visitors are asking about their auto insurance. The Office of Insurance Regulation says it is reviewing the matter. Until they have a better answer, the state is offering this advice to our Canadian visitors. “If they want to feel safe about it, they need to call their carrier” says Highway Safety Spokesperson Olsen-Doolan.

Canadian officials are quoted as saying they will seek a total repeal of the law. Tourism officials will likely join them. In deferring enforcement of the law, the state says it is basing the deferral of the law on the fact it may violate an international treaty with Canada. State Insurance officials don’t expect to be able to answer our question about coverage before Monday.

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