Fleet News

Car breathalyser fine enforcement delayed in France until March 2013

Fines to enforce the new law, which was introduced earlier this year, were due to come into effect on 1st November, but this has now been delayed until March 2013. At present, drivers including visitors from the UK face caution if caught driving in France without the compulsory kit.

France's Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, made the decision to delay the on-the-spot fines as a result of stock difficulties reported in certain regions, from March 2013 all drivers will face an €11 (approx. £9) fine if caught in France without a breathalyser in their car.

Miranda Schunke, spokesperson for Green Flag, said: "Although fines to enforce the new regulation may not come into effect until March, this is a huge step-change in policy so last minute demand for these testing kits is likely to be high. We'd strongly advise all motorists considering driving in France to invest in some breathalysers well in advance of their trip, to avoid last minute panics, and more importantly, breaking the law.

"Breathalysers are useful for ensuring those that need to drive after consuming alcohol can do so legally. However, it's vital that drivers don't interpret this requirement as a sanction for drinking, before getting behind the wheel. Drink driving remains a serious problem throughout the UK and Europe, so we'd discourage drivers from consuming any alcohol whatsoever before they take to the road."

The single-use breathalyser kit needed under the new rule can be used to check the driver's blood alcohol level. The legal limit in France is 0.5 grams per litre (50mg per 100ml of blood - lower than the 80mg limit in the UK).  The new kit will allow people to test themselves as well as others if they suspect they are over the limit.

Single-use breathalysers cost between €0.50 and €1.50 and the authorities are trying to make sure there are enough available before the law comes into force.  Breathalyser tests carrying the blue circular "NF" logo are recommended in France to comply with the legislation (this is the equivalent of the BSI kite mark in Britain), and they can be purchased online ahead of travelling.  However, there are many products being sold as French breathalysers, but these won't necessarily satisfy the French police, known as the Gendarmerie, unless they are on an approved list.

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  • Marc Wilson - 25/10/2012 12:59

    "However, there are many products being sold as French breathalysers, but these won't necessarily satisfy the French police, known as the Gendarmerie" Like the one in your picture, for instance !

    • Debbie@FleetNews - 25/10/2012 13:41

      @Marc Wilson - Hi Marc, good point, picture removed. All the best - Debbie

  • Edward Handley - 31/10/2012 09:19

    The introduction of the requirement to carry a breathaliser in every vehicle almost certainly means the French Police are going to have a blitz on drink driving in the coming months. A lot of effort will almost certainly be focused on the major ski resorts so anyone travelling to the French Alps should be very careful not to exceed the lower 50mg limit. Although the introduction of the on the spot fine has been delayed till March it will still start before Easter and the end of the ski season - the peak time for British skiers and boarders making a quick dash to the mountains. Anyone caught over the limit is going to be asked why they did not test themselves first so if you have had a drink you would be wise to use the test kit and keep it with you to prove you have or fines will be even heavier.

  • Colin Clarke - 18/11/2012 00:52

    I am teetotal. Why should I have to carry a testing device? Looks like they are assuming we are a bunch of alcoholics, but it is the French who get their population hooked on wine at a very early age.

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