Canadian snowbirds relieved international driving permit not enforced in Florida

12:45 AM, Feb 15, 2013   |    comments
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Hudson, Florida - Local Canadian snowbirds are breathing a sigh of relief after officials with the Florida Department of Highway and Safety announced they would not enforce a new law regarding international driving permits.

The new state law went into effect on January 1st and requires foreign visitors to have an International Driving Permit (IDP) while in Florida.

Steve Studenny, who lives in Hudson about half the year, could not believe it when he recently found out about the law. He arrived in Florida last month, and did not know about the new law and does not have an IDP. Canadian driver's licenses are in English.

Studenny doesn't understand why the state wants to 'beat up' those who spend lots of money here.

"It's just a pain. And then the question is, do you want to come back to Florida or would you rather go to Texas which doesn't have this?," said Studenny. "It's just another silly rule that doesn't make sense."

State legislators made the change so Florida police officers would not be faced with a license in a language they could not understand. 

Thursday, Florida Department of Highway and Safety announced they would not enforce the new law - stating it "may violate the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic, an international treaty to which the United States is a signatory."

Several local law enforcement agencies are taking the same stance, including the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.

Studenny said he got a number of calls from concerned Canadian friends, who are planning trips to Florida.

"You could be breaking the law. You could get arrested for driving without a license. That's the fear back home," said Studenny.

State legislators are reportedly working on revising the law, but any proposed changes would not happen until the summer.

Follow 10 News Reporter Althea Paul on twitter @AltheaPaul1

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