Perils of driving through the USA to get to Mexico BE PREPARED
A Canadian man who was pulled over by an officer in Beverly Hills earlier this week was accused of driving illegally in California without a state driver’s license.
The officer told the driver that he needed a California license to drive within state borders, even though that is absolutely not the case.
“You’re a cop, you should know I don’t need that. I’m a Canadian citizen,” the driver said in response.
Despite being wrong, the officer continued to intimidate the driver with irrelevant questions in an apparent attempt to assert his authority. He later cited the driver and even threatened to tow his vehicle away, even though he had no reasonable grounds to do so.
Clearly, the officer, in this case, did not know the law. It is completely legal for individuals with a valid Canadian driver’s license to drive in the U.S., thanks to a treaty between the U.S. and Canada that removes the need for international driving permits (IDP).
The only way a person with valid Canadian driver’s license can get into trouble while driving in the U.S. is if they fail to provide their other travel documents (i.e. passports, visas) when they are requested to do so. According to Section 264 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Canadians caught driving without their passports and related documents could face a $100 fine and up to 30 days in jail.
But in this situation, the driver was able to provide all of the travel documents that were requested of him, so the officer had no authority to act in the way that he did. There is no valid excuse for abusing authority, especially not ignorance.
This incident comes after another Canadian named Emily Nield was arrested and jailed in Georgia for driving with a Canadian driver’s license. The officer who had stopped her thought the driver’s license was fake and brought her into the local station, despite not verifying the license beyond its appearance.
Canadians traveling to the U.S. by road should take it upon themselves to know the law and their rights in case they are faced with a similar situation.
Driving in Mexico
According to TheAA.com, International driving permit is only recommended but not needed in Mexico. Another source claims, that Canadian or European driver’s license is valid in Mexico, which basically confirms that international driving permit is not really obligatory. The same is is recommended by the third source, which claims, that most European driving licences are valid in Mexico, but it’s a good idea to arm yourself with an international driving licence.
So how is it really?
Previous statements are valid and logical since Mexico is one of the countries that has not ratified Vienna Convention on Road Traffic from 1968, according to Wikipedia, and therefore Geneva Convention from 1949 is still legally valid in Mexico. According to article 41 of Vienna Convention, Mexico is not legally obliged to recognize international drivers permit.
Verdict on Driving in Mexico
American or Canadia citizens planning on driving in Mexico should carry a valid driver’s license at all times. US and Canadian driver’s licenses are valid in Mexico. Mexican law requires that vehicles be driven only by their owners, or that the owner be inside the vehicle. If not, the car may be seized by Mexican customs and will not be returned under any circumstances.