“Are you about to have your driver’s license revoked? A pity -- take advantage of the time left before your license becomes invalid... to receive an American international driver’s license so you can drive in Israel and abroad legally during the period your license is suspended. The license is issued in the United States and is not an Israeli international license.” So reads an advertisement posted a few weeks ago on bus stops on Schocken Street, which is where the Traffic Court for the Tel Aviv region is located.
The ad bore the title: “Good news for drivers.” But for drivers who are tempted to try this option, once their licenses have been suspended, it could be very bad news.
Yaakov, whose name and phone number are on the ad, explained that the service is intended for those who know they are about to lose their license, but still hold a valid one. Using a valid Israeli driver’s license, along with a copy of one’s Israeli identity card, three passport photos, a few forms and a signature, Yaakov can arrange a U.S. driver’s license in 25 to 35 days, he says, at a cost of 3,000 shekels. This license will allow you to drive in Israel and overseas during the period of suspension, Yaakov assures callers.
However, two lawyers with whom Haaretz consulted, insisted it was illegal to drive with an American license while your Israeli license is suspended or revoked - even if you have an international license. Attorney Eran Ben Ami, a specialist in traffic law and a member of the Israel Bar Association’s traffic law committee as well as the author of a book on the matter, said the law clearly prohibits driving in this country while your license is suspended.
“This is not a technical matter of paper or a plastic card, but a significant issue that the legislator forbade. Therefore, it is impossible to bypass the sanction using the technical means of an international license,” said Ben Ami. Anyone driving with such a license while their Israeli license is under suspension could be punished with prison time and an extended license suspension.
Do the police have the means to know whether a driver who presents them with an international driving license has had his Israeli license suspended? Ben Ami says the police should be able to discover that easily through a computerized system, since the driver must also present another piece of identification along with the license.
In addition, an Israeli driver with a non-Israeli license is likely arouse the suspicions of police.
Ben Ami says he strongly urges drivers not to try such a ruse, which constitutes a violation of one of the most serious offenses in the traffic code.
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