Saturday, September 15, 2007

I Can Drive in Malta Now!

I went to AAA (American Automobile Association) with two passport photos, my US driver's license and fifteen bucks. Ten minutes later, I had my International Drivers Permit!

Back in 1999, we spent a month driving around Italy. At the time, all I needed was my US driver's license. Nowadays, though, most countries require an International Driving Permit (IDP). In some cases, you can still rent a car without an IDP, but if you get stopped for a traffic violation, you will pay a lot higher fine without an IDP.

This was in the Travel Section of the Washington Post on Sept. 2, 2007:


Disaster Watch

Sunday, September 2, 2007; Page P01


Taking License With the Law

Steve Lertora of Fort Washington had no problem renting a car in Spain using just his Maryland driver's license . He drove 1,400 miles without trouble. But while trying to return his vehicle to Euro Car, he got confused by signs around a construction site and turned the wrong way onto a one-way street.

The traffic officer who pulled him over said that without an International Driving Permit, required for foreign drivers in Spain and many other countries, Lertora couldn't drive another inch. The car was towed to an impound lot . Lertora was left standing on the street.

He called Euro Car and was told he was on his own, then dragged his luggage for six blocks before finding a taxi. He'll find out the cost for towing and retrieving the car from the impound lot when his credit card charge arrives.

It's natural but not safe to assume that a car rental company would inform you of such a critical rule. Check rules at before leaving home. The site reveals licensing requirements and other important laws. For instance, the site warns that the fine in Spain for talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving is more than $400 .

International Driving Permits are issued at AAA locations and through the National Automobile Club ( . They are accepted in more than 150 countries when accompanied by your state-issued license, cost $15 and are good for one year. Those international driver's licenses sold on the Web? Forget about 'em.

Another Interesting Chinese Fortune Cookie

Now we're getting cute advertisements inside our fortune cookies!