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Florida Senate hearing bill to repeal special permits for international drivers

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The Florida Senate is in the process of hearing legislation that would repeal the need for international drivers to have special permits.

The Community Affairs committee unanimously passed the bill last week.

Starting Jan. 1, Florida enacted a statute requiring U.S. visitors from other countries to have an International Driving Permit to operate a car in the state. Although, under the International Provision of Road Traffic, Florida could not require that type of license.

This new bill would put the state in line with international driving laws.

In a press release, Transportation Committee Chairman, Sen. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) said the bill does more than correct an oversight.

“Visitors from all over the globe choose Florida as their vacation destination, and we want ensure they are able to travel across our state with ease,” Brandes said in a press release.

But even before the legislative session started, the Florida Highway Patrol stopped enforcing the new statute.

In February, when the department learned it was against an international treaty, highway patrol stopped taking action based solely on not having the permit, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

The permits cost $15 and AAA issues them.

Leslie Palmer, the department’s spokeswoman, said the law was first passed to make licenses in a language officials could understand.

“Looking back, it was unnecessary,” she said.

Palmer said visitors who have a legal valid license from their native country would not be charged for not having the permit.

It would have been a secondary offense. For example, someone would have gotten pulled over for a traffic infraction, and then could have gotten fined for not having the permit.

Palmer said she has not heard of anyone being charged for not having an International Driving Permit. She said there have been anecdotes but nothing that the department can confirm.

Palmer said it is important for the state’s legislature to send a message to its visitors that they are welcome in Florida.

About Samantha Shavell

Samantha is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org

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