Heading to Florida? Your license is not enough
Published Thursday, February 14, 2013 11:32AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 14, 2013 2:48PM EST
NOTE: This story has been updated: read the latest version here: Florida's 'tourist driver' law may violate Geneva Convention
Attention snowbirds who plan to drive in Florida: your Canadian driver's license is no longer enough.
On Jan 1. 2013 a law came into effect requiring Canadians and other foreigners to use an International Driving Permit before they get behind the wheel or rent a car.
Several other changes to Florida's highway code came into effect at the beginning of the year, but the state's department of highway safety and motor vehicles never publicized the law which affects tourists.
CTV Montreal contacted several police departments, travel agents, rental agencies and tourists in Florida, all of whom knew nothing about this law.
Kirsten Olsen-Doolan, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, confirmed to CTVNews.ca on Thursday that state law now requires Canadians and other non-U.S. citizens to carry an international driving permit in addition to their regular driver's license.
"I don't think anyone was honestly tuned into it until some British folks started asking about it, and then you guys started asking about it," Olsen-Doolan said.
The sole reason for an IDP is to provide a translation of a driver's license for anyone who interacts with a driver, such as police, rental agencies, or people involved in a crash and filling out a report.
Canadians heading south can purchase an International Driving Permit for $25 at CAA.
However the Canadian Automobile Association is asking Florida officials to revise the law so drivers with licenses written in English could be exempt, and reportedly officials from the U.K. are asking for a similar exemption.
Florida's legislature does not meet until March, so it is unlikely for any change in the law to be made before the summer.