Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hit the road Jack: Getting my Florida driving license

There comes a time in every expat’s life when he needs to stop driving around on his British driving license and get a Florida one.  Technically, I think I should have done this much earlier, but hey… 

Basically, you can drive here for a time on your British license, but the insurance is ridiculously high.  Plus a Florida driving license is used a lot for ID purposes.


I have also been cycling around quite a bit too.  We live way out on the edge of town and since the public transport here is virtually non-existent and my wife often has the car, there aren’t really any other options.  It takes me about 25 minutes there and back by bike to the gas station for basics like milk, and 40 minutes to the off-license/liquor store and back for booze!  It isn’t much fun cycling on a main road (what would be called a “dual carriageway” in the UK) with cars and trucks racing past at 60 mph. 

There are also other hazards too, such as the dead animals by the side of the road – armadillos, raccoons, even deer...  My main concern is encountering a living snake while cycling, however, which hasn’t happened so far, though there have been dead ones – see pic (extra kudos if you can identify the type of snake!).

I am told that as Gainesville is a liberal, college town, the cycle lanes/paths are particularly good, by American standards.  They are fairly similar to UK facilities, I’d say – which in some ways is a disappointment, as there is generally lots of space here, so it wouldn't be so difficult to build a separate cycle lane here which is physically separated from the car traffic, rather than just a white line painted near the edge.  I tend to want everywhere to be like Holland, however, as far as cycling facilities go.

My Florida Driving License

Each state has their own rules, procedures and laws for driving vehicles.  After spending ages trying to work out the procedure for getting my Florida driving license and spending 45 minutes on the telephone to an advisor (40 minutes waiting in the queue, 5 minutes talking to the advisor), I arrived at the driving place to find that the procedure was actually different to what the website implied and the advisor told me.

Anyway, there’s two parts to the test I’ve got to take – a written element and a “road test”.  I took the written test on the spot which was split into General Knowledge and Road Signs.  I needed at least 15/20 and scored 18/20 and 19/20 respectively, so that was good.  I’ve not booked the road test yet, as our car has a dodgy rear light, which needs fixing.  But I’m looking forward to it.

(I will write up a full account of my driving tests on my visa site: My K1 Fiance Visa Experience, when I eventually get my license.)


  1. Replies
    1. That's cruel! I like armadillos! :-)

      It's also peculiar to see all the vultures, pecking away at the roadkill, when you aren't used to it.

      In the UK, it is generally hedgehogs that you see squashed in the road, or maybe just things like frogs. Domestic animals too, of course, like cats and that happens here in FL too, of course. The only bigger wild animal I've seen flattended in the UK was a deer in Yorkshire.

  2. Next you got to drive to the border and get your free glass of orange juice.

    1. Hehe! Yes! I still want to drive to New Orleans.

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  4. I'm sure you've found the US test so much easier than the UK one. And I agree - I wish there were more bike lanes in both countries; it would be a dream to be able to cycle everywhere.

    1. Yes, the UK test is a pain - but after you've passed it, at least you don't have to worry again until you are 70!

  5. Is the snake a water moccasin? I think it's definitely poisonous.

    I grew up in Florida (Lakeland), but currently live in L.A. My boyfriend is British, though, and I've sent him the link to this blog to help prepare him for his first visit to America, specifically central Florida, next November. (We met online and I'll be going to England in March.)

    1. Yes, I think you're right about the snake. The poisonous ones tend to be fatter/more muscular, and the saffe ones are thinner, in my estimation.

      Good luck with your romance! The US can seem deceptively similar to the UK at first - some of the main differences in culture and attitude don't really seem apparent initially, in my experience!