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By: Kara Franker

Navigate through Miami’s twists and turns with this driving guide.

Planning a trip to Miami is much more than packing luggage and booking flights. Arriving in a new city, may be especially daunting for international visitors. Here’s what you need to know.

Driving & Traffic Regulations

  • Keep your driver's license, proof of insurance, registration or car rental documents with you at all times.
  • Drive on the right-hand side of the road.
  • Right turns are permitted at red lights unless otherwise indicated.
  • Always note posted speed limits: 15 mph in school zones, 30 mph in business or residential areas and higher on most expressways, unless road conditions warrant lower speeds. Again, ALWAYS NOTE POSTED SPEED LIMITS as construction zones (and other conditions) change frequently and will often change the local acceptable speed. 55 mph on most expressways, unless road conditions warrant lower speeds.
  • All passengers must wear seat belts.
  • Children under 5 years old must be fastened securely in government-approved car seats.
  • Texting while driving is not allowed.
  • In the case of rain or fog, turn on your car’s windshield wipers and headlights (not hazard lights; they are ONLY meant to be used if the vehicle is NOT moving).

For more information, please visit the Division of Driver Licenses. DMV’s are open Tuesday-Friday, 7:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. Hours vary by location.

Miami’s Main Highways

Florida's Turnpike, Dolphin Expressway (836) and the Airport Expressway (State Road 112) are toll roads. The Palmetto Expressway (826) is a toll-free road. Toll roads require all drivers to pay a fee via what’s called SunPass.

How to Use the SunPass Toll System

SunPass is an electronic prepaid tolling system used on most Florida toll roads; it is also the most affordable way to use all of the toll roads. A small, pocket sized device called a "SunPass Portable transponder" or a "SunPass Mini Sticker transponder" is attached to the inside of your car windshield, just below the rearview mirror. That device communicates with the toll plaza overhead readers via radio frequency.

As your car passes through SunPass lanes, the toll charges are electronically deducted from your prepaid toll account. If you would like to estimate toll expenses on a specific route, use the SunPass Toll Calculator. Transponders can be purchased at local supermarkets, pharmacy stores, AAA South offices and Amscot branches.

If you are driving your own car, you can purchase your own SunPass transponder or mini sticker to attach to the inside of your car. If you are driving a rental car, make sure to ask your rental car company about their toll payment policies. Most rental car companies charge a fee to use a SunPass. Always ask the rental car company ahead of time to find out what to expect and to avoid paying extra fees.

Florida’s Toll-By-Plate System

In most of Florida, there are no toll booths. Everything is now done either by the SunPass system or Florida’s Toll-By-Plate system. The Toll-By-Plate system is very similar to the SunPass system. As you drive through toll areas, if you don’t have a SunPass transponder or mini sticker attached to the inside of your car, cameras will read the license plate on your vehicle and you will be automatically billed to your home address. If you are driving a rental car, the car rental company will be billed and send you a bill for the charges incurred. Don’t let the tolls build up - your driver’s license may be suspended or you may not be able to renew your registration.

How to Use the I-95 Express Lanes

Located to the far left in both the North and South bound lanes, the I-95 express lanes offer a faster option to beat heavy traffic delays. These lanes are toll lanes and the fees change according to the time of day and increase at higher travel volume times. To use the I-95 express lanes, you must have a SunPass transponder. There are many vehicles that are EXEMPT from the tolls for using the express lanes. If you are using a rental car, you may purchase a PlatePass or Pass24 at your rental car agency location..

Entries/Exists from the express lanes are limited but that’s why they allow you to travel faster.

Once in the express lanes, it’s important to note:

  1. There isn’t an exit for approximately seven miles, until just north of the 151st Street Exit.
  2. You can’t stop inside the express lanes.
  3. Driving around or between the plastic poles is not allowed and incurs extra penalty fees.

Get Driving Updates About Road Conditions with Florida 511

To ensure a safe driving experience in Miami, use the Florida Department of Transportation’s 511 system for 24/7 traffic updates on all of Florida’s major roadways. You can call 511 toll free or you can register with the 511 system to receive automatic, Personalized Text Alerts or use the free Florida 511 app for quick traffic updates. For more recent updates, check out the @FL511_Southeast Twitter feed.

Florida 511 allows you to create a custom profile with unlimited routes for up to two phone numbers. You may select English or Spanish as your preferred language. Then you’ll receive a phone call, text, or email alerts about incidents on your selected routes. When you call 511 from a registered phone number, you will receive updates on your custom routes, as well as other statewide traffic information. You will not be able to access your Florida 511 routes from a phone not listed on your account.

Tips for Parking in Miami

Miami is a big metropolis, so expect to pay to park in most areas of the city. Rates vary depending on the neighborhood and how long you plan to park your car.

The Miami Parking Authority operates most of the public parking spaces in several Miami neighborhoods including Downtown, Coconut Grove, Brickell, Little Havana, Wynwood and the Design District (including public lots, metered street parking and garages). The easiest way to pay for parking in these areas is to download the Apple or Android Pay by Phone app. And the good news is that you can use the same exact app whenever you’re paying to park in the City of Coral Gables.

The City of Miami Beach manages parking on South Beach and surrounding neighborhoods. Watch carefully for signs that state whether street parking is for residents only or is available to the public. The easiest way to pay for parking on Miami Beach is to download the ParkMobile app. And because parking can sometimes be scarce (especially during peak travel times), we recommend using the Apple or Android ParkMe - Miami Beach app, which will show you instantly where parking spots are available.

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