Even as thousands of British holidaymakers are heading for half-term holidays in Florida, the administration in Florida has tightened rules to dissuade rash and unsafe driving.
The administration has issued a warning that foreign drivers would need to carry an international driving permit as well as their local driving license to be authorised to drive a vehicle in Florida. The law could lead to jail terms for people who violate the law.
Until this year, drivers only needed a standard British photo card licence with the green counterpart to drive in the US. But Florida’s legislature has changed rules that would require them to also carry the international permit as well as their national licence. Violation of the law would lead to harsh penalties and mandatory court appearances, authorities warned.
A UK Foreign Office spokesperson said, ‘We have raised changes to Florida driving laws with the Florida authorities. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has advised us that they are urgently looking to amend the law for those countries who issue driving licences in English.’
Few British motorists carry the permit, which costs £5.50. It is issued by the AA and RAC by post. They can also be obtained in person at Post Offices.
About one million UK citizens visit Florida annually. Elle Hubbard of the rental broker, Tripwheels, said, ‘We had hoped that perhaps there might be a ‘grace period’ or leniency shown given that many tourists will be already in Florida and unaware of the new rules. However, we were told ‘Law enforcement is there to enforce the laws, we are not selective nor can we disregard the law.’