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Florida flip flops on international driver’s license requirement

New state law violates Geneva Convention on Road Traffic

Canadians driving to Florida for the March break can continue to do so using only their provincial driver’s license.

The State of Florida announced this week it will not be enforcing a new state law that requires visitors to the state to carry an International Driving Permit.

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The law, which came into effect on January 1, requires visitors from outside the US to have an International Driving Permit in order to drive lawfully in the state. However, the law caught many visitors off guard, especially Canadians planning on making their their annual winter migration south. Outlets such as CAA offices quickly ran out of the permits in recent days.

But on February 14, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles announced that it was suspending enforcement of the new law due to the fact that it may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949), an international treaty to which the US is a signatory. Treaties to which the United States is a party preempt state laws in conflict with them.

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The Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario (IBAO) issued a statement thanking the federal government for its quick response to the law to ensure Canadians driving in Florida were protected.  The IBAO has also confirmed with a number of insurance companies that the lack of an international driving permit was not in breach of a consumer’s coverage and would not affect a driver’s current protection.

According to the IBAO, in March, it is expected that the Florida Legislature will reconvene and review the legislation. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, they will propose giving Canadians an official exemption from the law, which was originally intended by state legislators to help law officers interpret foreign licenses in other languages.

“We wish to thank the insurance companies representing brokers who have confirmed that insurance coverage will remain in place and not be denied to those Canadians operating a vehicle in Florida with their valid Canadian driver’s license,” stated IBAO CEO Randy Carroll. “Ontario drivers are encouraged to contact their broker to ensure their coverage is confirmed before their next trip.”

 

 

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