Sarasota Sheriff Refuses to Enforce New International Drivers Permit Law

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Highway Patrol said the new law, which requires international drivers to obtain a $25 permit to drive in Florida, could violate the Geneva Convention.

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles have announced they are not going to enforce a new state law requiring international drivers to obtain a $25 driving permit to drive in Florida. 

The new law was suppose to go into effect on Jan. 1, but authorities fear the new law violates the Geneva Convention on road traffic.

"Until this issue is resolved, deputies will only require that motorists have a valid driver license in their name from their country of residence or territory of the United States," the sheriff's office said in a statement released Thursday. 

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles also issued a statement Thursday afternoon

"During the 2012 legislative session, the Florida Legislature amended section 322.04, Florida Statutes, to require visitors from outside the United States to have an International Driving Permit in order to drive lawfully in Florida. This change took effect Jan. 1, 2013.

It has come to the Department's attention that this requirement may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949), an international treaty to which the United States is a signatory. Treaties to which the United States is a party preempt state laws in conflict with them.

Therefore, the Florida Highway Patrol will defer enforcement of violations of the amended statutory section until a final determination of the alignment of the amendment with the treaty can be made. Non-resident visitors to Florida who wish to drive while here will be required to have in their immediate possession a valid driver license issued in his or her name from another state or territory of the U.S. or from their country of residence. However, the FHP will not take enforcement action based solely on the lack of an International Driving Permit."

We want to hear from you, Sarasota: Do you think the $25 driver permit fee for international drivers in Florida is fair? Join the conversation in the comments section below.

Nigel February 17, 2013 at 02:16 PM
I live in the US and have a Florida and a UK license. When my daughter visits she has to have a International Driving License to drive my car under the terms of my insurance as she is under 25. It used to be easy to obtain an IDL at any post office in the UK, but now there are very few post offices that issue them. Visitors to Florida from the UK who rent cars did only have to show their valid UK driving license. If this law was to remain, they would all have to apply for the IDL - this might make them think twice about vacationing in Florida because of the hassle involved. This matter has made the news on UK televison this last week as schools are on the half term break and many parents go to the Florida attractions for a short break. The quicker that this new law is rescinded the better, it could deter many foreign visitors, and they are the life blood of Florida. Better to concentrate resources on dealing with drivers with no insurance and get them off the road.
Victor Orloff February 17, 2013 at 03:38 PM
May be visitors should pay for beach access, stores and restaurants? This IDP law is a shame and stupid.
monique thomas February 17, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Checking the constitutionality of a law? An elected official upholding their oath of office? The Sheriff, doing the right and proper thing--The is such a breath of fresh air!
John Wright February 17, 2013 at 07:43 PM
I think the sheriff should worry more about enforcing FL state law than some International law whether from the Geneva Convention or some United Nations law. It's not too far fetched that the UN or updated Geneva Convention Act could dictate no civilian owning a type of firearm. What then sheriff? You with them or us?
monique thomas February 17, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Good question, Mr. Wright! Can you pick up the phone on Tuesday morning and ask him how he is going to uphold the 2nd Amendment? Let us know what you find out here. Thanks for being a great citizen!
Victor Orloff February 17, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Look at common sense not International or local laws. Stimulate job market not rip the guests.
monique thomas February 17, 2013 at 08:39 PM
Without the protection of your basic right to defend yourself and your property--in other words if you always have to worry about someone trying to take your stuff and spend all the time defending it, there is no time to spend on economic activity. Allowing international law to impede economic activity, whether by decreasing international visitors or by having the ability to police our streets by laws that are not in line with our country's will steal your liberty. The ability to stimulate the job market will be on their terms, not by our God-given rights. Bastiat's 'The Law' is good short primer on our unalienable rights and economics. Check it out!
ed taylor February 17, 2013 at 09:59 PM
In various stories about this issue I've yet to read the burning issue as to why the Legislature passed this unreasonable, burdensome regulation (other than the blatantly obvious: a cash grab). Not beyond reason for Canada and/or the EU to mandate U.S. citizens obtain same. What a hassle that would be. Did anyone not think - or raise the subject - of ramifications? Don't answer that, we know the answer. Might I suggest the mantra for this year's Florida Legislative session: DO NO HARM.
Paul Henry June 13, 2013 at 01:39 PM
Now if we can only get these two groups to agree to stop enforcing the unconstitutional REAL ID Act forced upon us by Congress. That's the law that makes you turn over many of your personal documents just to renew your license and what made the cost go up from $20 to $48 in 2009. To learn more, Google Floridians Against REAL ID.


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