Expat Life

Resident of where?

Expat, immigrant, resident, here, there. I’m a resident of where? It’s hard to know sometimes.

There are six reasons a person may be excused from jury duty. Being in another country is not one of them. I have been summoned to appear for jury duty in Miami-Dade County. One can only postpone for up to 60 days. It seems that the County expects me to spend $2k and fly in for jury duty.

I couldn’t find a way to reach someone at the Clerk’s Office by phone. I found an email enquiry form and was surprised that someone promptly replied. Ms. M said that I have two options: (1) appear for jury duty, or (2) relinquish my driver’s license. Doing so will excuse from jury duty and remove my name from the juror list. She noted that Florida statutes require people living in another state or country for more than three months to relinquish their Florida license and obtain one from their new state or country of residence. I pointed out that I’m not a resident of Australia; I’m on a tourist visa. I’m a Florida resident. “You are not a Florida resident because you are not residing in the state of Florida at this time,” she replied.

There’s status and there’s status. I reside in Australia, but I’m not a resident. I’m a citizen of the USA, but no longer a resident.

I don’t like the idea of relinquishing my driver’s license. The day had to come, but I never thought about it. I enquired with Vic Roads (my state’s version of the DMV) and learned that I am eligible a Victorian driver’s license. I made the appointment.

Mockup of a Vic Roads drivers license.

The process was quick and easy. I arrived at 2:45pm for my 2:50pm appointment and was out the door by 3pm. I filled out an application, presented my Florida driver’s license, my passport, a bank statement for proof of residency, my bank (ATM) card, and paid $245 for a driver’s license that expires in 10 years (you can also opt for a three-year license for $72). I had to take a vision test (and I use the word “test” loosely), but there was no driving test. It was that easy. Vic Roads just hands us right-side-of-the-road American drivers a license (well, they hand us a piece of paper and the actual license arrives in the mail a couple of weeks later). No L plates. No P plates*. I laugh when I think of it.

Cartoon of a man and woman in car.

I’m relinquishing my Florida driver’s license by mailing it to the Department of Motor Vehicles along with a letter explaining that I no longer live in Florida.  The State of Florida will then send me a confirmation letter, a copy of which I’ll forward to the Clerk’s Office to be removed from the juror list.

Picture of L and P plates.*For my friends back in the USA, an L-plate is issued to learner drivers. After your Ls, you move on to your Ps. P stands for “provisional” and these are held for three or four years depending on various factors such as the driver’s age and how long they’ve had a learner’s. You may be on red Ps for a while and then green Ps. Although called plates, they’re usually magnets. They must be placed at front and back of the vehicle. They’re like warning signs for new and poor drivers.

 

Comments

comments

  • Oh my goodness! Now I know that Floridian drivers can obtain a Victorian license that easily, I’ll be too scared to hit the roads! ;-0

    Sorry, Cosette – I’m sure you’re a perfectly good driver.

    It’s just that we had to do the full driving test when we applied for our Floridian driving license, and we thought it was the biggest joke. All we had to do was drive around a car park, stop and give way at the appropriate places and park in a supersized US parking spot. No parallel parking required. No real traffic. Easy as they come, but it didn’t fill us with confidence in the drivers who were sharing the road with us.

    • Cosette

      Miami has a reputation for having some of the worst, most road-raging drivers in all of the USA, and it’s not undeserved. I think Melbourne drivers are slightly better. My theory is that both cities have a lot of immigrants who all bring their various and sometimes conflicting driving habits. Although Florida and Victoria have their own driving laws, that you can so easily get a license when you’re a foreigner is pretty crazy and probably contributes to the problem.

  • Wow. I have lived in Melbourne for nearly four years now with my PA drivers license. If I could do it over again, I would get a Victoria one right away because it would have made life much easier, but I was stubborn about it. I never considered the possiblity of being summoned for jury duty … I was terrified when I first began driving in Melbourne, in spite of having lived in the U.K., but eventually learned to drive just like the locals. Good luck and have fun.

    • Cosette

      Thanks! I drive a little, but not often. I need to practice and build up my confidence.