Recent amendments to Florida statutes now require foreign drivers to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to a valid driving license from their own driving license authority. The law went into effect at the beginning of January without being publicized outside the state. Today, the first day of the law's announcement in Canada, over 900 Ontarians lined up for hours trying to obtain the permit from the Canadian Automobile Association.
Canadian media report that representatives for the Florida Highway Patrol and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said the law would not be enforced for the time being. The new legislation was intended to make law enforcement easier because the IDP shows foreign license information in English, in addition to multiple other languages.
Toronto media have filed dozens of stories today warning travelers to obtain the permit from the Canadian Automobile Association at a cost of $25. Drivers must also produce two passport photos at additional cost.
Media reports place heavy emphasis on Florida HSMV public relations official Kirsten Olsen-Doolan's statements that the law will not be enforced. At the time of writing an official statement was not available on the Florida HSMV website.
According to the Toronto Star
The department announced Thursday that the law may contravene the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic and requires further review.In the meantime local law enforcement officials, car rental firms and insurance companies may ultimately decide the matter. The Canadian Automobile Association advises that the Canadian Drivers License is not valid in Florida without the ISP. A valid drivers license is required for automobile insurance purposes.
As soon as the legislature reconvenes in March, it will propose giving Canadians an official exemption from the law, which was intended by state legislators to help law officers interpret foreign licences in other languages, says Olsen-Doolan.
A 2011 study, of the economic impact of Canadian trade with the state of Florida estimates 3.1 million Canadian tourists visit the state each year, spending over $3.5 billion dollars. The direct economic impact of that spending resulted in 43,000 jobs and $700 million in taxes for the state of Florida.