Florida backtracks on law that penalised British car hirers

The authorities in Florida, USA, have backtracked on a recently introduced law that penalised British visitors wishing to hire a car in the southern state.

The law stated that all drivers of hire cars in Florida had to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order that an English translation of their licence was always available for production. While the law was introduced to account for the many foreign language visitors that descend on Florida each year, there was no exemption for carriers of English language licences from the UK, Canada and Australia, all of whom had been able to drive in Florida on presentation of their domestic driving licences until the law was passed. Also, the law was introduced in January with no great publicity, so British travellers were only made aware of its implications when they arrived to pick up their hire car and were told that they did not have the correct documentation.

Florida-based car hire companies who saw the legislation as a threat to their very lucrative business in fly-drive holidays soon took up the issue, and the authorities initially bowed to the pressure by saying that the law would not be enforced. When it became clear that drivers were still wary of the possible implications of flouting a standing law, despite the authorities’ assurance that they would not be penalised, the law was finally repealed. So, once again British visitors to Florida only need to carry their UK driving licence by law.

However, Rosie Sanderson, head of International Travel at the AA, told the Daily Mail, ‘Car hire companies and insurance companies can still impose their own terms and conditions and I certainly advise that travellers check with their intended car provider prior to travel or obtain the IDP as a precautionary measure.’

An IDP can be obtained from a UK Post Office for £5.50 and lasts for one year.