New Florida permit law may violate international treaty

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | Thursday, February 14, 2013

A new Florida law that requires foreign citizens to obtain a driving permit before operating in the state may very well violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic.

Florida passed the law, which went into effect Jan. 1, which requires all non U.S. residents to carry a valid international driver’s permit when driving their own vehicle or a rental vehicle while in Florida. The law requires drivers to be in possession of both a valid license from their home country and the permit.

But, late in the day Feb. 14, it appears the requirement may not apply to anyone.

In a memo sent by Col. David Brierton to all sworn personnel of the Florida Highway Patrol, he states that the requirement “may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic.” The memo also explained that treaties to which the U.S. is party pre-empts state laws that conflict with them.

So, for the time being, the Florida Highway Patrol will not be enforcing the requirement until a final determination is made, according to the memo.

However, even if the permit rule is given the green light and enforcement kicks in, truck drivers with valid CDLs from their home countries will not be subject to the regulation.

“The IDP requirement in Florida only applies to persons operating a vehicle that would NOT require a CDL to operate in Florida,” Lt. Jeff Frost, public affairs officer with the Florida Highway Patrol told Land Line.

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