Driving in the United States
You must have a driverís license and car insurance to drive in the United States.†† Driving without a valid driverís license and failure to have automobile insurance are both violations of the law. Your international driverís license authorizes you to drive in the United States for one year, but local laws and driving procedures may be very different from those in your home country.† It is advisable to enroll in a driverís education course or safe driving course prior to operating a motor vehicle in the United States.† You may also wish to obtain a Georgia driverís license or state identification card.† You will need to take a written test and a driving test in order to obtain your Georgia driverís license, and there is a fee involved.†† For general driverís license information, for locations of the driverís license office nearest you, to view a driverís license manual or for fee information, please go to the Georgia Department of Driver Services website.
You will need to need the take the following items with you to the driverís license office when applying for a driverís license:
- Two forms of legal documents with your name and address on them (such as a bank statement or electric bill)† Click here for a list of the things the DDS will accept.
- Social Security card Ė OR Ė a letter of denial from the Social Security Administration.
If you do not have a Social Security card, you will need to apply for one before you can even apply for a driverís license. If the Social Security Administration denies your application for a social security number, get a letter of denial from them. You can use this to apply for your driverís license.
IF YOU ALREADY HAVE A DRIVERíS LICENSE FROM YOUR COUNTRY, YOU MAY NOT NEED A GEORGIA DRIVERíS LICENSE!
There are some problems with this option.
1) The average police officer may not be familiar with this particular provision of law.
2) Not having a valid Georgia driverís license will make the cost of automobile insurance higher.†
What this means Ė a summary.
In short, YOU DO NOT NEED TO GET A GEORGIA DRIVERíS LICENSE as long as you have a valid driverís license in your country, are registered as a student at GPC, and have paid your tuition for that semester.
What you should do if you decide not to get a Georgia driverís license.
If you have a driverís license of a classification that would allow you †to drive your car in your country,† then you should have the following things in your car whenever you drive:
1) Your foreign driverís license
2) Your GPC student ID card
3) Proof of payment of tuition for the current semester, and
4) A print out of the gray box below to show any police officer who may not understand this law. .
The specific law can be found on page 147 of Title 40 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.) at http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/GaCode/Title40.pdf
You can still get an official State of Georgia ID card from the Department of Driver Services. A State ID will make things much easier for you, such as getting a bank account, renting an apartment, etcÖ
Things to remember when driving in the USÖ
While driving, it is important to obey all traffic laws, speed limits, and posted signs.† If you break the law and are spotted by the police, the police officer will indicate that you need to pull over by turning on a siren and by flashing the carís blue lights.†
As soon as you can do so safely, pull over to the side of the road without impeding the flow of traffic, or turn into a parking lot.† Do not get out of your car.† Park and roll down the window when the officer approaches, and remain courteous, even if you are angry or puzzled about why you were pulled over.†
You will need to provide the officer with your driverís license, proof of auto insurance, and the carís registration, but wait until the police officer asks you for these items before reaching into the your glove compartment, purse or wallet to retrieve them.†††
If you are issued a citation (ticket), you will probably be subject to a fine and may be required to appear in traffic court.† If you are issued a warning, you will not need to appear in court or pay a fine, and you should thank the officer for only issuing you a warning.†
If you are involved in an accident involving another car, call 911 immediately and alert them to the need for an ambulance if you or other passengers are injured.† It is best to avoid a confrontation with the other driver, so it might be a good idea to avoid speaking to the driver until the police officer arrives.† If the accident is serious or involves a lot of damage, your insurance company will need to be notified, and you could be subject to an increase in your insurance premium.