Florida's 'tourist driver' law may break Geneva Convention
On Jan. 1, 2013 Florida introduced a law that requires Canadians and other foreigners to use an International Driving Permit before they get behind the wheel or rent a car, however the state's department of highway safety and motor vehicles never publicized the law which affects tourists.
But after intense media interest Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has decided to defer enforcing the law after learning it may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic.
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 the law required 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 media scrutiny coming from the U.K., Canada and other countries alerted Florida officials to a hitherto ignored treaty, the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic.
In a written statement, the DHSMV wrote: Treaties to which the United States is a party preempt state laws in conflict with them. Therefore, the Florida Highway Patrol will defer enforcement of violations of the amended statutory section until a final determination of the alignment of the amendment with the treaty can be made.
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.
It is not known if the state of Georgia, which also has a law requiring international drivers to have a valid license and an IDP, will make any changes to its highway code.