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Driving in the USA with an Indian Driving License
Driving in the USA with an International Driving License
Whether they're on a business trip, studying, using an H-1B visa, or just visiting, many Indians first arriving in the United States want to know whether they are allowed to drive a vehicle with a valid driving license from India. In the US, driving is not leisure, it is a necessity. Without a valid license, one cannot rent a car and it's hard to move around suburban areas or anywhere else where public transport is not available.
Traffic rules are different from India. Critically, in India right-hand vehicles are driven but in the US you drive from the left side of the car.
One must keep in mind that driving without a license is illegal in both the countries. But in America traffic rules are not as leniently enforced as in India. In India, violating any traffic rule one time means a minor cash penalty whereas in the US a severe punishment is doled for every violation. Cash fines are accompanied by marks on or suspensions of licenses, and in the long run violations result in increased insurance premiums.
The International Driving License has made it convenient to legally drive in different parts of the world without any difficulty. Travelers arriving from India to the US must obtain an IDL from India. It is useful because in India driving licenses are issued in the official language of the state issuing the license.
It's important to remember that an IDL does not permit anyone to drive in USA. The IDL is not in itself a driving license. It is a legal translation of a current valid license into 10 languages. It is like a passport and comes with an International Driving Document containing the list of countries which have signed the United Nations Convention on Roads and Traffic resolution to accept the terms of the International Driving License.
Holding an International Driving License makes the procedure for obtaining a valid driving license in the US easy. The IDL is valid only along with the original driver's license from India.
International Driving License holders and those interested can log onto http://www.idlservice.com for more information about obtaining one. No test is required. However, it is the responsibility of the license holder to familiarize him- or herself with the rules of the road conform strictly to the local laws and regulations.
This is not limited to Indian license holders. Anyone can apply from any corner of the world and obtain the proper documentation before even arriving. Moreover, a permit to drive in the USA is allowed for up to 10 years or up to the validity of the original license.
Conditions to allow driving with an Indian license differs from state to state in the US. For latest state-level details, manuals, procedures, and traffic rules refer to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for the state you intend to drive in.