Florida Driving Laws to Be Aware of
Like any foreign destination, driving in Florida as a tourist can be quite overwhelming and exciting. The last thing you want is getting a traffic ticket or breaking any other road laws during your vacation.
So, when planning a vacation in Florida, you need to do more than just packing your bags and using a map app. Getting familiar with driving laws of this southeasternmost U.S. state is also important to help you drive safe and avoid unwanted trouble.
Let’s explore in detail some of the essential road laws for driving in Florida.
Using Your Driver’s License or Permit
Before 2013, Florida driving laws allowed foreign tourists to drive with their licenses from home. However, this changed in 2013 when state officials overturned this permission.
With the new rule, foreign drivers were barred from using their home driver licenses. Also, it made it hard for them to make insurance claims when they get involved in road accidents. The law instead required tourists to have international driver’s permit from their country.
For those with other states’ learner’s license/permit, you’re allowed to use them if you abide by Florida’s learner’s permit restrictions. If your learner’s permit is less than three months’ old, you are only allowed to drive during daylight hours.
After that, you can drive with a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old in the front passenger seat.
Essential Driving Guidelines
There are important driving rules in Florida that every visitor must follow.
When driving, make sure to keep on the right side of the road. You’ll see the legal speed limits posted on the right side to guide you as you drive. You’re allowed to make a right turn at a red light after stopping your car. However, if there’s a “no right on red” sign at the intersection, you can’t turn right.
Your vehicle headlights must be on all the time from dusk to dawn and when it’s raining and fogging. Ensure the windscreen wipers are turned off when stopping at toll booths. Driving in Florida while drinking alcohol and taking drugs or while under the influence is illegal. Make sure you’ve got a sober, licensed driver should you get drunk.
It’s also illegal to text while driving your car, regardless of your age. There are no talking bans, but it’s advisable to use a hands-free system when making calls.
If there’s an emergency, you can dial 911 or FHP on Florida interstates and highways to get help from state police.
Seat Belt Requirements in Florida
U.S. driving laws require the use of seat belt. Children less than four years old or 40 pounds must use a child car seat. Make sure to inquire about the seat from your car rental company.
Keep in mind that all front seat occupants much use a seat belt even if your vehicle has an air bag. Also, it’s illegal to drive in Florida if any occupant under the age of 18 is not wearing a seat belt. They also cannot use the front passenger seat without buckling up.
This is a requirement for all types of vehicles, including vans, trucks, pickups, and cars, operated on Florida vehicles. Safety during your road trip is crucial.
Guide to Florida Toll Roads
Keep in mind that some interstate highways have tolls in Florida. This includes Alligator Alley, Bee Line Expressway, and the Florida Turnpike.
The cost of tolls depends on the section of the toll road you’re using and your destination. The Florida Department of Transportation prices tolls by miles and the number of vehicle axles. As you drive, you will see the toll amount and the next toll booth that you can use to pay tolls.
You can pay with cash at manned booths and get change. At unmanned booths, you’ll need the exact toll amount. However, some areas don’t accept cash. Some include the Miami section of the Turnpike, Selman Expressway (Tampa), Veterans Expressway (Tampa) and Mid Bay Connector (Destin).
You can also pay with SunPass if you have it. An electronic reader scans it and deducts your toll amount from your prepaid account. Roads that use all-electronic tolling accept payments by toll-by-plate. A camera takes a picture of your plate, and you’ll get the toll bill via mail.
Move Over Law in Florida
When driving in Florida on a two-lane roadway, move over law requires you to slow your car down to 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit. If the speed limit for a roadway is 20 miles per hour (MPH) or less, you must drive at five miles per hour.
When police vehicles are parked along an interstate or a road with multiple lanes, you must move your car to the far lane away from the police. Alternatively, you can slow down to a speed of 20 miles per hour below the posted limit if you’re unable to move over.
Violating this law endangers your and the police’s safety, and it’s subject to fines.
Plan Your Trip
If you’re going to drive or rent a car while vacationing in Florida, it’s advisable to plan for everything in advance. This will help you avoid common mistakes drivers make in Florida.
Contact your car rental company to know the essential requirements. In most cases, you’ll need a driving license, credit card, and passport when renting a car. The minimum age provision for renting a car is 21. However, bear in mind that some car rental services will charge more for drivers below the age of 25 years old.
Also, let the vehicle rental service tell you how they handle tolls, especially with all-electronic trolling roads. Most major services allow their clients to use the TOLL-BY-PLATE electronic collection system and they’re charged to the card used to hire the car.
Driving in Florida Safely!
Learning these important laws and rules for driving in Florida is important before leaving our home country or state. Also, strive to make car reservations online or by phone before your vacation.
Ensure you have all the emergency numbers and the necessary maps or GPS systems. You can use Florida 511 to view traffic cameras or get the state of traffic on certain roads. Or, simply dial 511 to know current traffic conditions.