Florida - AA Travel Hub
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Florida is a state in the southeastern region of the United States, bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, and to the south by the Straits of Florida.

 

Florida is the 22nd most extensive, the 3rd most populous,and the 8th most densely populated of the 50 United States. Jacksonville is the most populous city in Florida, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. The Miami metropolitan area is the eighth-largest metropolitan area in the United States. Tallahassee is the state capital.

Via Wikipedia

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Driving

Speed Limits

Speed limits are fixed according to the place, the vehicle and the weather. Standard legal limits which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers. In municipal areas 30 mph (50 km/h), business or residential areas 30 mph (50 km/h), rural interstate 70 mph (110 km/h), limited access highways 70 mph (110 km/h), school zones 20 mph (30 km/h), and all other roads and highways 55 mph ( 90 km/h).

In the state of Florida, driving too slow is against the law therefore it is required that you drive with the flow of traffic. As a rule of thumb, if the speed limit is identified as 70 mph the minimum speed is 50 mph.

Licence / Insurance

You will need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before travelling to the United States if you are planning on driving while there. The United States does not issue IDPs to foreign visitors so it’s essential to get one before you travel. IDPs are only available for purchase in Ireland from the AA. To obtain an application form or if you require further details on IDPs, please click here.

If you are going to live in the U.S., a U.S. driver’s license can be obtained once you’re in the States however it can take several months to obtain your U.S. driver’s license.

Foreign visitors who become U.S. residents can only obtain a driver’s license from the state in which they reside (not from the federal government). Each state has its own driving rules and regulations. Check with your state’s motor vehicles department to find out how to apply.

Once you receive your U.S. driver’s license from a state motor vehicles department, you will be permitted to drive in all other U.S. states. The laws in each state vary from one to another. It is your responsibility to know and obey the laws of that state while driving.

The residency requirement for obtaining a U.S. driver’s license varies from one state to another. Consult the motor vehicles department in your state for more information.

If going to study in the U.S., contact your host university or college, as most institutions provide students with additional driving information.

The U.S. government has issued warnings about Internet vendors of worthless international driver’s licenses/permits. It is important to educate yourself about the dangers of these costly and illegal operations. See International Driver’s License Warning from Federal Trade Commission.

Fuel

Fuel is incredibly cheap and costs a fraction of what it does in Ireland.

Oil trades on the world market in US Dollars which works in their favour as they wouldn’t have to worry about their exchange rate weakening, unlike us Irish. In comparison to Ireland it works out less than half the price we pay for petrol here. However, as demonstrated in the table above the price of fuel varies from state to state.

While diesel is the same in both America and Ireland, trying to identify a direct comparison of unleaded petrol in the US is not as straight forward. Unleaded petrol contains about 95 RON rating; to find the nearest US comparison watch out for anything over 91 AKI which is generally found in “premium” branded fuel.

It is also worth noting that when you see the listed price in US fuel stations they are listed in gallons as opposed to Ireland where the listed price is calculated per litre. A quick tip to calculate the price of fuel per litre is to divide the price by 3.8 (gallons).

US petrol is also weaker than what we use in Europe. Most European cars wouldn’t have the capacity to function on US petrol, which can be as low as 87 RON (EU cars run on 92 or higher), without an adjustment that would likely reduce its power output. However, US cars are designed to run on lower octane fuel, so using cheap fuel in a car wouldn’t damage it like it would European cars.

One little tip when filling up in the US; unlike in Europe, where petrol is a green pump and diesel is a black pump, US petrol (gasoline) pumps are marked black and diesel pumps are marked green.

Tyres

The minimum tread depth in Florida is 1/16 or 2/32 of an inch.

Tolls

It’s recommended that you opt for a toll tag whilst in the US. Many car rental companies offer a toll tag that covers all tolls for around $40 a week and we would advise that it is certainly worth the investment. See Cost to Drive where you can calculate the cost of tolls you meet on your route.

Other Requirements

Travel Advice

Entry Requirements

The ESTA is an electronic registration system requiring travellers who are part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to register in advance of travelling to the US.

Registration

 

You should register through the Department of Homeland Security website, where you will have to pay a fee (currently $14).

Registration can be done by third parties on your behalf, such as travel agencies, and multiple applications can be completed and paid for in one transaction.

Validity

 

You can submit an ESTA application at any time prior to travel – the Department of Homeland Security recommends that it be submitted at least 72 hours in advance of travel. Once approved, it will be valid for multiple entries into the US and generally for up to two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

Additional information

  • If you don’t get authorisation to travel you’ll need to go to your nearest US Diplomatic or Consular Mission and apply for a visa.
  • An ESTA approval does not determine admissibility into the US. The final decision for entry to the US rests with immigration authorities at the port of entry.
  • The ESTA programme does not apply if you have a visa for the US.
  • Children, including infants, who are endorsed on a parent’s passport must have an individual machine-readable passport or else obtain a visa in the parent’s passport.

In most cases, to enter the US, you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months after the date you enter. However, Ireland has an agreement with the US that allows you to enter on a current passport up to the actual date of expiration – so your Irish passport needs to be valid only for the duration of your stay in the US.

However, if you’re travelling visa-free on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and your passport is valid for less than 90 days, you will be admitted only until the date on which the passport expires. If the passport is not valid for the duration of your stay, you must apply for a new passport from your nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate while in the US.

Information gathered via The Department of Foreign Affairs

Local Laws & Customs

Practical advice

  • Read our travel advice, inform yourself before travelling and get advice locally when you arrive
  • Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them
  • Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or even illegal

When you’re in the US, all federal, state and local laws apply to you. Laws vary from state to state but when you’re physically present in a state, even temporarily, you’re subject to that state’s laws, and, in many cases, to the jurisdiction of its courts.

If you get into any difficulties with US Authorities, you should explain to them that you are an Irish national and ask to speak to an Irish consular officer. We will do what we can to help you but we cannot get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Illegal Drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms.

Immigration Documents

US Federal Law requires all foreign nationals to carry immigration documentation (such as your passport showing that you have permission to enter or remain) at all times while in the USA.

Some States (Arizona, Utah, Indiana, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama) introduced legislation designed to identify and reduce the number of illegal immigrants in their states. These measures include authorisation for police officers to detain people they suspect of being in the US illegally. Although some of the measures are being contested in the courts, it is important that you have your documents available for scrutiny if you’re asked by law enforcement officials to present them wherever you are in the United States.

Information gathered via The Department of Foreign Affairs

Insurance

Before travelling, the Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Emergency Assistance

The best help is often close at hand so if you have problems, try talking to your local contacts, tour operator representative or hotel management.

Contact the Embassy

If there is an emergency, or if you need help and advice, you can contact the Irish Embassy in Washington DC and the Irish Consulates in Austin, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco.

The Department of Foreign Affairs has a lot of experience helping Irish citizens who run into problems when they’re abroad. Learn more about the kind of emergency assistance they can offer you.

Security

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