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French breathalyzer law takes effect

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09:04 CEST+02:00

All vehicles travelling on French roads must carry a chemical or electronic breathalyzer test from Sunday, under new rules aimed at reducing alcohol-driven accidents.

"Alcohol has been the main cause of mortality on roads since 2006," according to road security authorities.

The rules, well publicized in France, take place just ahead of the summer holiday season, and look certain to catch out many of the hundreds of thousands of foreign drivers taking to the French roads in the coming months. 

About a third of fatalities on French roads is due to drink driving, a rate that far surpasses the 17 percent recorded in Britain or 10 percent in Germany.

According to a survey published Sunday, just over half of respondents – 57 percent – said they have yet to equip their vehicles with breathalyzer tests.

Those who fail to do so risk a fine of 11 euros ($14) from November 1, 2012, when the penalty comes into force.

Drivers are split over the measure.

"I find it absurd to be booked for that. But it's the law, so I'll besubject to it," said Hamou Louachiche, 38, who still does not have a test in his car.

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He believes that such tests would be more useful in bars or nightclubs.

Others however welcome the measure, saying it would reduce drink driving.

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