Friday, February 15, 2013

Off to Florida?

You've got to feel a bit sorry for our poor beleaguered European Editor. You see at around 9 am GMT today, he received a call from a close friend who had discovered some important information relating to his trip next week to the 21st annual AIA Business Conference in Orlando, Florida.

She informed him that she had heard on the television that a law introduced in Florida on January 1, 2013 now requires all persons who hold a license issued outside of the US to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) along with their national driving license.

Apparently, the new law says that -- without an IDP -- a driver is therefore driving without a valid license, and if stopped, law enforcement officers have the option of either arresting the driver and taking them to jail or giving the driver a citation with a mandatory court appearance.

Not wanting either option to happen to him, our European Editor walked down to his local Post Office to see if they might supply him with the relevant documentation.  Sadly, they weren't able to help, directing him to the nearest larger Post Office in Bedford, a town no more than five miles away.

Unfortunately, upon driving into this town, parking his car and walking into the establishment in question, he was told that only a few Post Offices were capable of dealing with such requests and the nearest one was, in fact, in Luton -- over forty miles away.

Somewhat peeved, our European Editor drove home to telephone the Automobile Association (AA) who confirmed that the only way to obtain the IDP was to present his existing UK photocard license and passport at the Post Office in Luton.

After an hour long drive, he finally reached his destination. But alas, there was more bad news in store for our editorial friend.

That's right. You see, the folks at the Post Office in Luton informed him that -- in addition to his photocard license and passport -- he would also be required to present what in the UK is known as a "Counterpart Driving License (CDT)," a small green piece of paper that appears to all intents and purposes to contain exactly the same information as the photocard license itself. Our Editor, naturally enough, had left his CDT at home.

Needless to say, it took most of the day before our European Editor was actually issued with his brand spanking new IDP. He can now rest assured that nothing particularly nasty will happen to him should he be stopped by the police while attending the AIA Conference.

But he needn't have worried. Because after checking on the Internet just hours ago, I have discovered that the Florida Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles has now issued a statement saying that the recently enacted IDP requirement has been suspended pending further study.

All apparently due to the fact that the requirement may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949), an international treaty to which the United States is a signatory.

See you in Florida!

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