Transportation in Tampa Bay

Owning a Car

For many students owning a car brings many advantages. There is no question that having a car would be extremely convenient and would permit you to take trips that otherwise would be impossible. Having a car will facilitate traveling to the campus and recreational activities. There are also significant responsibilities and obligations. As an international student you need to be sure you learn about the US Federal laws and the state laws that pertain to owning a car and driving in Florida.

These are some of the things to consider:

New car

Although a new car will most likely give you fewer problems than a used one, it will also prove to be far more expensive. If you buy a new car and sell it 12 months later, you can expect to face a rather substantial loss.

Used car

While there is always some risk in buying a used car, its value decreases far less than that of a new car over the same period. However, if you are fortunate to find a good one, you will have dependable transportation. Begin to look for a car in the price range you can afford.

You have two options:

  • To buy directly from an individual owner you can look via the Internet for specific car websites.(https://tampa.craigslist.org)*
  • To buy from an established automobile dealer. Examples of website include (www.cars.com/, www.autotrader.com/ , www.carsforsale.com/,//www.usedcars.com/ )* our zip-code 33771.

*Please note that Schiller International University does not endorse and/or recommend any specific website and/or business.

Although you may save money buying directly from an owner, we would suggest that you consider purchasing your car from a reputable dealer who will give you a full guarantee on the car. Thus, if anything goes wrong, the dealer will repair it potentially at a minimal cost to you. 25

Car Insurance with International Driver’s License or Origin Driver’s License

International students who want to drive an automobile while attending a college or University in the United States will have to purchase an International Auto Insurance policy. Most major insurance agencies, such as Geico (https://www.geico.com/)* or State Farm (https://www.statefarm.com )*, offer auto insurance for international students who have obtained an international driver’s license from their country of origin and show it the insurance agent handling their policy. The amount of a short-term policy for someone who is not an American citizen could be costly since the insurer does not know anything about the applicant’s prior driving record. This expensive type of policy is how they protect themselves from the risk of insuring someone from another country, which may have different driving laws and regulations.

*Please note that Schiller International University does not endorse and/or recommend any specific website and/or business.

Car Insurance with Local Driver’s License

State of Florida law requires all automobile owners to have car insurance with a minimum of at least Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and property damage. Florida has a “no-fault” insurance law; it is your responsibility to get informed regarding the insurance laws and regulation, property damage insurance, liability insurance, collision insurance, and comprehensive insurance.

Many private companies offer automobile insurance at different rates. Insurance rates vary with the company; these depend on the value of the car, the age of the driver, and past driving records of the driver. There are a number of different insurance policy options available to help you get the complete auto insurance coverage you need.

  • Geico.
  • Allstate.
  • State Farm.
  • Esurance
  • Amica.
  • USAA Auto Insurance.
  • American Family Auto Insurance.
  • Liberty Mutual.
  • Progressive.
  • AAA.

Failure to have the minimum insurance requirement is against the law, and leads to fines, possible imprisonment, and having your driver’s license revoked or suspended. 26

Registration

  • Visit a Florida DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) office.
  • Bring your title, proof of ID, and car insurance card.
  • Have the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and odometer reading handy
  • Pay your initial vehicle registration fee, title fees, plate fees, and taxes.

The DMV Test (For individuals that have their country’s Driver’s License)

Drivers who hold only international driver’s licenses, or who move to Florida and will drive a car or moped, must obtain a Florida State driver’s license within 30 days of arriving in Florida issued by the Florida Department of Highway Safety Motor Vehicles (DMV). Drivers who receive a driver license for the first time must take a written test, a road test, and a vision test.

Florida Non-immigrants renewing or applying for a new driver license or identification card will be required to submit:

  1. Primary identification document –valid passport
  2. F-1 and M-1 classification must also be accompanied by an I-20.
  3. Two proofs of residential address (i.e. lease, utility bills, etc.)
  4. Original Driver’s License (for their country)
  5. Form I-94 which can be downloaded online

The DMV Test (For individuals that don’t have their country’s Driver’s License)

All drivers getting their first driver’s license in Florida are required to complete certain steps by Florida Law. The DMV Test (also known as the Permit Test) is now being offered online.

Step 1 – Drug and Alcohol Awareness Course

The first step to get your driver’s license is to complete a Traffic Law and Substance Abuse Education course. This course must be taken by anyone – regardless of age – getting their first driver’s license in Florida. This course is also known as DATA (drugs, alcohol, and traffic awareness)

Step 2 – DMV Test Preparation and Practice Test

Once you have completed your DATA course the next step is to take the DMV test. This is a written test that covers Florida road signs and road rules. The DMV test is administered by the DMV. 27

Preparing for the DMV Test

Before you take your DMV test we recommend you take a DMV Test Preparation Course. These courses make it easier for you to take the test and teach you what you need to know to be a safe driver.

Step 3 – Take your DMV Test at a Local DMV Office

  • If you over 18 your must take your DMV test at a DMV office
  • Make sure you have an appointment
  • Bring the necessary ID and documents

The DMV test consists of 50 questions. There are 45 questions on road rules and 5 questions on road signs. You must have 40 correct to pass.

Applicable Websites

  • Florida Driver’s Handbook
    http://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/dlclass.html
  • Pinellas County Tax Collector (Renew registration for your vehicle)

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