Florida House Repeals International Driving Law

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Associated Press Release

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida House has approved a bill repealing a law from last year that requires foreign visitors to have international driving permits.

The bill (HB 7059) passed Wednesday by a vote of 116-0 and now goes to the Senate. It is expected to pass there.

Under the law that took effect in January, foreign drivers who didn't have the $25 permit translating their license information into English could have been charged with driving without a license.

But the state highway department learned that the permit requirement violates an international driving treaty. Canadian tourists who drive to Florida rallied to change the law. About 14 million Canadians visit Florida each year.

International visitors still must have a valid license from their country of residence to drive in Florida.

By: Garin Flowers

Some lawmakers describe it as legislation that creates "unintended consequences."

That's what's being said about a law requiring international visitors to have special permits to drive while in Florida.

"We actually reversed a law and kind of made some good balance out of it, making it better for those that are visiting and those that are long term residents here," said State Rep. Lake Ray, a republican out of Jacksonville.

Rep. Ray sits on the house economic affairs committee.

Thursday, he said they unanimously voted to push through a repeal for the international driver's law.

"These were issues that were being brought up and they finally got them resolved. There's been a lot of feedback from a number of people on that," he said.

The law was intended to help Florida law enforcement to sort out traffic incidents with international visitors, especially those with licenses in different languages.

Instead, visitors complain it creates confusion among other things.

"You know we want to be open, we want to be accommodating, we want to make sure you know that people can come visit us," said Kirsten Olsen-Doolan with Florida Highway safety and Motor Vehicles.

According to Visit Florida, there are 14 million international visitors to Florida each year, with Canada providing the most.

"We still suggest you do get an international driving permit, public safety is very important and it's important that people can read your license and contact your loved ones in an event of an emergency," Olsen-Doolan said.

Both house and senate committees pushed through the bill Thursday.

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