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Never mind, drive on

After creating quite a furor, the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) has now announced (in a Feb. 14 statement) that it is suspending the state’s recently enacted International Driving Permit requirement pending further study. International visitors who plan to drive in Florida now need only a valid driver’s license issued from their own country. In its statement, the DHSMV said: “During the 2012 legislative session, the Florida Legislature amended section 322.04, Florida Statutes, to require visitors from outside the United States to have an International Driving Permit in order to drive lawfully in Florida. This change took effect Jan. 1, 2013.” “It has come to the Department’s attention that this requirement may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949), an international treaty to which the United States is a signatory. 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.” “Non-resident visitors to Florida who wish to drive while here will be required to have in their immediate possession a valid driver license issued in his or her name from another state or territory of the U.S. or from their country of residence. However, the FHP will not take enforcement action based solely on the lack of an International Driving Permit.” Go to for more. The Canadian government was quick to report the change which drew condemnation from Canadians involved in Florida’s tourist trade, concerned that it would make the state look less attractive as a tourist destination. A Foreign Affairs spokesman said yesterday afternoon (Feb. 14) that Florida officials decided that there “will be no enforcement”of the law at this time, something he labeled “short-term good news.”However, Ottawa is concerned that the law “will present itself in another form”down the road and will lobby against it. Florida sees some three million Canadian visitations annually and Canadians spend a large amount of money in the state, he said. “We will be making these points very forcibly… The key is to get this permanently removed.”One report said the law was enacted so that everyone stopped by Florida police would be able to present a driver’s license with the information detailed in English.

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