Oops. Traffic rule passed by legislature violates international treaty

FHP won't enforce license law for foreigners

TAMPA - State officials are reversing course on a policy requiring Canadians and all other foreign visitors driving in Florida to carry a special driver's license.
 
Some foreign visitors at the rental car counters at Tampa International Airport on Friday had already heard of Florida's new law requiring them to have a special International driver's permit to drive on our roads.

"Just as we were leaving, news broke of this story.  I said to a friend what are we going to do?" said Maninder Chana from Toronto.

"Three million Canadians I think, visit Florida a year, so to expect all of them, especially seniors, to get licenses, it just doesn't make any sense.

The rule requiring an English translation of all foreign licenses quietly went into effect January 1 in Florida, supposedly to help FHP officers verify people's eligibility to drive.

But the State Highway Traffic Safety Department this week reversed course issuing a statement saying the requirement may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic.

The Geneva Conventions were a code of humane conduct drafted after the horrors of World War Two.

Florida's faulty traffic law is no war crime, but the tourism industry was alarmed at anything that might seem inhospitable to our foreign guests.

"That's the concern. You don't want to create any kind of reason for tourists not to come to Florida. If there's any kind of hoops they have to jump through, that could be the reason they decide to go somewhere else" said Mark Jenkins.

Bottom line, the Florida State Legislature will likely remove this provision from the law this summer. In the meantime, FHP and other law enforcement agencies say they won't enforce it.

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