Florida puts foreign driving licence law on hold

The state of Florida in the US has put a controversial driving licence law on hold.

The law, which was passed with little publicity last year, stated that all foreign drivers should carry an international driving permit. Although the law was brought in to ensure that all drivers in Florida carried a version of their licence that was printed in English, its wording meant that holders of British and Canadian licences were also legally obligated to purchase a permit at a cost of just over £16.

The law caused an outcry, not only from British and Canadian drivers arriving in Florida, often unaware of the legislation, but also from the state’s car rental companies who had to deal directly with the disgruntled visitors. Now, the law has been put on hold while alternatives are considered, and those responsible for passing it have apologised for their oversight.

Florida state Republican, Ben Albritton, who introduced the bill, said in the Tampa Bay Times, ‘This one I just missed. I want to tell the people in Canada I am sorry. If I messed something up, I am man enough to fix it.’

And John Tupps, the deputy press secretary for Florida governor, Rick Scott, said. ‘We will work with the legislature to amend the law this year so it does not burden international visitors to our state, who make up an important part of our tourism industry.’

Despite the climb down, the Canadian Automobile Authority is still recommending that Canadian Nationals visiting Florida continue to purchase an international permit until the law is officially changed.

Each year, approximately 3 million Canadians and 1.3 million British travellers visit Florida.