If you’ve ever wondered how it is legal for foreign nationals to
drive on America’s highways, your answer lies in a 1949 United
Nations treaty

governing
worldwide transportation rights. The law created an international
driver’s license (IDL), and set forth provisions mandating that all
signatory countries honor it.

What is even less known than the IDL, however, is that Americans too
can benefit from having one. One such perk is that an IDL holder is able
to partially obscure his or her identity — a definite plus in today’s
environment of increasing concerns over privacy.

According to the International Licensing Bureau,
whose North American office is located in
Los Angeles, the mandate applies to anyone in over 200 countries,
including Americans who want to bypass the normal state-issued licensing
process. The license is, according to ILB, also legal in all 50 states.

“That’s because the licensing country of origin is the Bahamas,” said
Tim Thorn, a spokesman for ILB. “Since the licensing authority doesn’t
come from the U.S., Americans can legally get one of these and drive
anywhere in the country,” without fear of getting into trouble with the
law.

“All jurisdictions in the U.S. have to — and do — recognize this as
a legitimate driver license,” Thorn told WorldNetDaily. “As an
international treaty, it has become the law of the land. But most
people aren’t even aware of the international driver license.” Thorn
also said Americans don’t usually use them unless they travel abroad a
great deal.

He said people have been stopped by U.S. police officers while
driving with an IDL, “but they don’t get in trouble for having an
invalid driver license because the IDL is perfectly legal and has been
in use worldwide for some time now.”

While the “basic reason” most people get an international license is
to drive with them, Thorn did say the licenses, which resemble passports
and contain a space for a mandatory photograph, also provide a modicum
of privacy.

“You have to put at least your last name on them,” Thorn said. “But,
you can put any first name on them that you want,” he added, saying that
most people use their middle names as their first name on the
international license. “That way, if you have a traffic record with the
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), when they run a check on you using
your middle and last name, that name won’t show up” on the system
computers as having been stopped and ticketed before.

“You can also use your IDL to get auto insurance and rent cars with
them,” he said, “but you cannot register or buy a car with one.”

Regarding traffic tickets, Thorn said that an IDL will not prevent
“you from being stopped and ticketed in the normal fashion. However, in
our experience, most U.S. police don’t issue tickets” to people with
IDLs because “they think you’re a tourist,” and they know most foreign
tourists are not going to pay their fines or show up in court to face
charges.

“That’s where the country of licensing comes in,” he said, “and
that’s why an IDL can work for Americans.” Since the licenses are
issued from the Bahamas, “guess where your ticket is going to go or your
fine or court date or whatever? The Bahamas.” Thorn said tickets are
sent to a Bahamas licensing address, where they become “conveniently
lost.”

However, he added, “I’m not saying you’re not obligated to pay that
ticket,” but if the ticket is never registered to a state driver’s
license holder — and hence, an address in the states — “that driver
does not lose points on driving privileges in the U.S.”

“That can help keep your insurance rates down,” said Thorn.

The IDL is good for 10 years, and costs around $350 U.S. for “a
standard vehicular license.” Thorn said IDLs are also available for
commercial carrier drivers “up to certain weight limits,” and are
delivered to the purchaser “about four business days after we receive
payment.”

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