Beware all Florida tourists!

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Whilst the rental companies have not made any great efforts to pre-warn any tourists about this issue, rental companies (apparently except for Alamo) have now introduced rules to enforce this legal change. Regardless of whether you booked your rental vehicle 12 months ago or 2 days ago, all tourists should be aware that there is a distinct possibility no rental hire will be possible without first showing your IDP.

WHERE CAN I GET AN IDP?  
IDPs can be obtained from the AA or the RAC, but it can take some time for the application to be dealt with.  Click  here for the AA's webpage relating to IDPs.   If you need the IDP in a hurry you can go to a Post Office branch with your British driving licence (BOTH parts!) and a passport photo. The charge for the application is £5.50 - check which Post Office branches offer this service though, as it seems to be restricted to the larger ones. Please make sure you ask for the 1949 edition of the IDP, as the earlier 1926 version is only valid in those well-known tourist destinations of Brazil, Burundi, Iraq and Somalia!

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN IDP? 
Well, you may not obtain your booked hire car. Hertz and Avis have already made it clear they will require an IDP. Alamo may use a more lenient approach, but if you are intending to fly and hire please beware. And if you have already hired a car but have no IDP, you need to be clear that if you are stopped by the police you may well be charged and have to attend court. Some Sheriff's Offices have stated their intention to deal with such a violation by way of a standard $120 fine, but others have decided to enforce the rule and technically a prison sentence is within the range of punishments for this offence.

I would strongly recommend all British tourists look into this issue - better safe than sorry, and I imagine a stint as a "lag" in a police station would not be the fun you are seeking when you head to Florida.

Interestingly, Simon Calder of the Independent claims to have found a solution and has advised:

"On Thursday night, after the car-rental firms had changed their rules, officials in Florida backtracked – saying the new law clashed with US obligations under that 1949 Convention. While lawyers argue it out, "the Florida Highway Patrol will not take enforcement action based solely on the lack of an IDP". But will the rental firms revoke their new rules in time for the half-term rush?...I have found a loophole. You need neither an IDP nor a driving licence to drive a vehicle manufactured for operation on a golf course...and that is not capable of exceeding speeds of 20 mph".


Dear Readers, does a "fly and golf buggy" holiday not sound a much more exciting way to see Florida? 


Lauren Haas
Solicitor
Claims Abroad team 

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