Florida cops get it right by nixing new law requiring Canadians to carry an international driving permit
It’s a good thing that common sense prevailed in Florida, where the Highway Patrol says it will not enforce a new law requiring Canadians to carry an international driving permit.
I was about to get up on my horse and holler at the sunshine state about biting the hand that feeds it.
Anyone who has ever driven in Florida or plans to do so this winter – and that covers a lot of us – had to be rattled by news this week that tourists, including Canadians, are suddenly required to carry an international driving permit.
The permits can be obtained from the CAA for $25. Tourists driving without it could be subject to a fine and denied collision insurance coverage, for not having a valid license.
Many of the three million Canadians that visit Florida each year rent a car at the airport and keep it throughout their vacation, while snowbirds that stay for the winter often drive down from Canada.
It adds up to hundreds of thousands of us behind the wheel in Florida at any given time, and a huge inconvenience caused by unnecessary red tape.
A Canadian drivers license has always been as good in Florida as those from any U.S. state. We adhere to the same licensing standards as the U.S. and have the same streets, highways, road rules and signs. For driving purposes, there is no difference.
Aside from that, there’s the small matter of our business. Canada is its biggest source of tourists. We spend billions there every winter and own more property in Florida than any other foreigners.
For its state legislature to create a needless obstacle for Canadians seems like a mistake, and even if it wasn’t when the law was passed, it sure looks like it now, and they know it.
The Florida Highway Patrol said Thursday it wouldn’t hold Canadians to it, while the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said it was intended to help police interpret foreign licenses in other languages.
Canadians had apparently “deluged” the department with calls, “and they are not a shy bunch,” an official told The Star, adding that when the legislature reconvenes next month, it will consider a proposal to exempt Canadians.
And none too soon for me. I’m taking my family for a couple weeks in April and was annoyed by the idea that my Ontario license is no longer good enough. Had there not been some climb-down, it would have been no trouble to book a vacation in Punta Cana.
That must have occurred to them, too.