Perhaps you have seen the multitude of ads for the International Driver’s Permit. The ad might promise you can drive if you have too many points on your state-issued drivers’ license. The ad may promise you can drive if your state-issued license has been suspended or revoked, even for drunken driving.
Well, guess what?
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), although an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is a real document when issued by the proper authorities, it is not a legal alternative to your state-issued license. Plus, if you are stopped by a law enforcement officer and present an IDP as proof of your identity and authorization to drive a motor vehicle, you may be arrested.
What is an IDP? Since the United States is a party to a United Nations treaty that gives residents of one country the right to drive in other countries using the driver’s license issued by the government where they live, the IDP is simply a document to make this arrangement easier.
An IDP merely translates your state-issued driver’s license in 10 languages so you can show it to officials in foreign countries to help them interpret your driver’s license.
Here’s a fact: If you are a U.S. resident, an IDP is useless within the United States! IDPs are not intended to replace state-issued driver’s licenses and should be used only as a supplement to a valid license when traveling to a foreign county. Also, it must be noted that IDPs are not proof of identity.
The U.S. Department of State has authorized only two organizations to issue IDPs to U.S. residents. The organizations, the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the American Automobile Touring Alliance (AATA), are permitted to sell IDPs only to people who are at least 18 years old and only to those who have a valid driver’s license issued by a U.S. state or territory. The charge for an authorized IDP is $10 each.
Like all forms of ID, there are opportunists looking to cash in on fake IDPs. Here is how the IDP scam operates: Ads for fake IDPs commonly pop up on Web sites and as spam e-mail. In addition, some IDPs are sold on the street and through shady store front businesses. The going price for fake IDPs ranges from $65 to $350.
These IDP scammers falsely claim that their documents will:
1 – Authorize consumers to drive legally in the U.S. even if they don’t have a state-issued license, or if their state-issued license has been suspended or revoked.
2 – Can be used to avoid points or fines affecting state-issued driver's licenses.
3 – Can be used as a photo identification in the U.S.
According to the FTC, all these claims are false! In fact, if you are a U.S. resident, and you are caught using an IDP in place of your state-issued driver’s license, the consequences can be severe. You could be charged with driving without a license or driving with a suspended or revoked license.
To learn more about the driver’s license requirements in your state, contact your legal professional and your local department of motor vehicles. If you plan on driving overseas, contact the AAA or AATA for more information about acquiring a legitimate IDP.
For more details, please log on to www.ftc.gov.
My Final Thoughts: The improper use of an IDP may put us all at great risk. An individual, who would not otherwise be authorized to operate a motor vehicle, may think that a fake IDP gives them the right to drive. There are many good reasons why this individual may have lost his or her driver’s license in the first place, including reckless driving and driving while intoxicated.
As the public and law enforcement communities have more awareness of the IDP problem, hopefully our roadways will become a safety place for all of us.
Note: If you manufacture or distribute any security, safety, emergency preparedness or crime prevention related products, please send information on your product line for possible future reference in this column to: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.
Copyright 2007 by Bruce Mandelblit
“Staying Safe” with Bruce Mandelblit is a regular column for the readers of NewsMax.com and NewsMax.com Magazine.
Bruce welcomes your thoughts. His e-mail address is: CrimePrevention123@yahoo.com.
Bruce is a nationally known security journalist, as well as a recently retired, highly decorated reserve law enforcement officer.
Bruce writes "Staying Safe," a weekly syndicated column covering the topics of security, safety and crime prevention.
Bruce was commissioned as a Kentucky colonel — the state’s highest honor — for his public service.
This column is provided for general information purposes only. Please check with your local law enforcement agency and legal professional for information specific to you and your jurisdiction.
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