You are probably aware that all cars in France have to always carry a bright yellow waistcoat and a warning triangle in case of night time emergencies.
But one new rule that has perhaps received less publicity than it could have done is the requirement that drivers in France are now obliged to carry an individual alcohol breath test, and those that don’t are liable to pay a small fine of 17 euros.
I haven’t been able to find a ‘start date’ for the new law, or much else in the way of official information, but understand the law starts about now!
We don’t have our own alcohol breath tests yet so perhaps it’s time to go shopping. If you are in France and looking for one make sure it has the official NF mark. this ensures that (1) it complies with the law and (2) the company making the blood test can charge three times as much for the test (although we are assured they will be very cheap to buy).
The drink-driving rules in France are quite strict – you can only drink one small beer and remain within the 50 mg/100 ml limit, which is about half of the UK limit of 80 mg /100ml. There isn’t always an automatic ban for someone caught drink-driving. (You will be fined and lose 6 points out of 12 for a ‘minor’ offence.)
If you have an accident with illegal levels of blood alcohol your penalties can increase a great deal, and if you do have a blood alcohol level above 80mg /100 ml (the UK ‘safe” limit) you are likely to have your car taken off you, receive a large fine, and possibly even spend time in jail. Which might just spoil a lovely holiday!
One curious thing. As far as I can tell the UK has about 500 drink-driving related deaths a year while France has twice that number, despite the stricter alcohol limits. Is that because everyone in France ignores the law, people in the UK are allowed to drink more but actually drink less, or just because the numbers of deaths are calculated differently I wonder?
Incidentally, rumour is that if you are a UK resident and your licence gets taken away from you it will simply be sent back to DVLA and returned to you in due course with no penalty or points deducted. Even if this is true remember that you won’t be allowed to drive your car home through France yourself, so a (sober) partner with a valid driving licence or a tow truck might be your only way home…