Trucks Safe in Florida Licence Mess; 4-Wheelers Not so Much

TALLAHASSEE, FL — A new state law that requires Canadian car drivers to hold international driver’s licenses in this state does not apply to truck drivers.

“Canada and Mexico commercial drivers are exempt,” Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles spokesman Kirsten Olsen-Doolan told Thursday morning.

It sure applies to private car drivers, though. (So you might want to forward this story to any snowbirds you know!)

The new law was introduced to help law-enforcement work more easily with the millions of foreign tourists whose licences aren’t English. Cops have no way of knowing whether they’re valid or not.

The legislation is definitely not targeting snowbirds.

“We love our Canadians,” Olsen-Doolan said adding, “I’ve been getting swamped with calls on this.”

According to media reports, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) is trying to get the State of Florida to amend the new law to give Canadian drivers a break but technically, if you’re in Florida and a cop pulls you over, you are required to have the international permit. You might not be charged, but, Olsen-Doolan added, “it’s a matter of police discretion. You would either have to be in a serious crash or be a real jerk to be in trouble.”

Because of the state legislature’s schedule, the soonest the new law can be amended is July. Kirsten-Doolan confirmed that her department is in the meantime looking at ways to clarify the new law so any English-language licence is valid.

Also, there might be an insurance problem if you get in an accident and then find out your licence is technically invalid.

So while the CAA is working to have the law amended, the association is also recommending Canadians in Florida obtain an international permit just to safe.

You can obtain an international drivers licence by contacting the Canadian Automobile Association. The price: $25 and the cost of a passport photo.

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