Driving in the USA - licenses

Apr 21st, 2013, 07:37 PM
Original Poster
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Driving in the USA - licenses

Hi - we will be driving a hire car between Pasadena and Las Vegas then Las Vegas to San Luis Obispo and on to San Francisco. We have heard conflicting reports on whether we will need an international driving permit to drive in the US or whether presentation of our Australian Licenses will be sufficient. Can anyone please advise? It isn't expensive to purchase one (around $35 each) but it seems a waste of money if it isn't necessary.

Thank you!!
Daneille08 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2013, 07:40 PM
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I think each State might have different regulations. I think you will likely need one.
spirobulldog is offline  
Apr 21st, 2013, 07:46 PM
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Since you are renting a car, you should go with what the rental car company tells you.
Cranachin is offline  
Apr 21st, 2013, 07:51 PM
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Check with your car rental company, it's their decision that matters.

From what I understand, the international permit is just to verify that a license from your home country is valid and is absolutely necessary if your license in not in English. I assume yours is. One snag is that what we call a "license" is often called a permit in other countries, Here a "permit" is what you get when you are learning to drive, not proof that you have passed the necessary test. That could be an issue if you get someone who is not savvy looking at your documentation. A friend had a foreign "permit" turned down as insufficient for personal identification, but she was not presenting it to rent a car. I would hope that car rental agencies will be able to tell you exactly what you need and train their employees in the protocol.

BTW, with my US license I have rented cars in several European countries and elsewhere and have never been asked for an international permit.
nyer is offline  
Apr 21st, 2013, 08:25 PM
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This is the official website of the Department of Motor Vehicles of the State of California. It clearly says it will recognize a drivers license issued by a foreign country, and that you do not need an international driver's permit, whose sole purpose is to translate a foreign-language license. I assume the same is true for Nevada, but I didn't check.

sf7307 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2013, 08:28 PM
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An international driving permit is nothing more than what it claims to be: a translation, in several languages, of a statement that the person has a valid license to drive in his/her native country. Without that latter license, an IDP isn't worth the paper it's printed on. The ONLY reasons you would EVER get an IDP are because (1) you fear the authorities in the place you will be driving won't be able to read your license to drive or (2) the rental company requires it. Reason (1) wouldn't apply of English speaking visitors to the U.S., and (2) can only be answered by the rental company itself.
PaulRabe is offline  
Apr 21st, 2013, 09:59 PM
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Thank you all for your help!
Daneille08 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 01:04 AM
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We are aussies and hired a car in Vegas to go to the Grand Canyon. Only needed our Australian Drivers Licence. I booked the car before we left and only needed to show the licence and passport.

Have a great trip.
october_fun is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 02:01 AM
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You should be aware, however, that driving _regulations_ differ significantly from state to state, including speed limits, both posted and "understood" and things like whether or not you can make a right turn after stopping at a traffic light.

What is an understood regulation? It is the sort of thing you have to memorize for your driving license, such as sped limit if none is posted, who has right of way at intersections or what you do in the case of a minor accident. In practice, moderate amounts of common sense will get you through this

Just never tell a cop, "I was only keeping up with traffic!".
Ackislander is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 05:39 AM
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As far as I know, the person who arrives at any intersection FIRST has the right of way. If two people arrive simultaneously then the person to the RIGHT has the right of way.

Is there some state or other jurisdiction in which this ios not the case?

I have never been anywhere that a speed limit wasn't posted SOMEWHERE; the problem may be remembering what it was on that sign you missed five miles ago.
Dukey1 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 06:29 AM
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All states allow right on red unless there is a sign prohibiting it. New York City is the only exception.

Driving regulations do not differ "significantly" from state to state. While there may be some minor differences, the basic rules of the road are the same.

One relatively new rule that we have here in the southeast is the requirement to move over a lane or slow down when passing a stopped police vehicle or other emergency vehicle that has its lights flashing (i.e. when making a traffic stop). I see a lot of people failing to do this and being pulled over.
Brian_in_Charlotte is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 07:51 AM
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We have that rule in California too.

Many years ago, we got a ticket for making a U-turn where there was no sign saying "U-turn Permitted". The law was changed the next year, so that U-turns are permitted unless there's a sign saying they're prohibited.

It's illegal to use a device (texting, presumably emailing, talking on cell-phone) while driving.

In some states, it's illegal to mount anything on the windshield, including a GPS device. California recently changed that law, too, so now it's permitted to mount your GPS, but only in the lower left or lower right corner (not in the center, where it would be most useful).
sf7307 is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 09:15 AM
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A GPS will also indicate the speed limit of what road you're on, which is very helpful.
MonicaRichards is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 09:26 AM
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Speed limit in NYC is 30 mph unless otherwise marked - and I have never seen that speed limit posted on city streets. Although traffic lights will keep you to that limit unless you rush madly up to each light and then jam on the brakes.

There are no turns on red - which many out of towners ignore.

Pedestrians always have the right of way - ditto.
nytraveler is offline  
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