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France suspends law on breathalyser kits

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An employee of the Pelimex company at Ingwiller in Eastern France checks a breathalyser (Ethylotest). A law forcing motorists to have one in their cars has been suspended. Photo: Frederick Florin/AFP
15:00 CET+01:00
A French law forcing motorists to keep a breathalyser kit in their car at all times, has been suspended by the government, it was announced on Thursday.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls revealed the law, which was aimed at tackling drink-driving, has been put on the back-burner for the foreseeable future.

The regulation, which also affected foreigners driving in France, came into force on July 1st last year, but because of numerous hick- ups it has never actually been applied by the authorities.

Drivers found it hard to get their hands on the disposable test kits, with stores across the country frequently forced to put up 'out-of-stock' notices. Suppliers could not keep up with the demand.

Questions were also raised over the reliability of the breathalysers, known as Ethylotests in France, and whether the results were accurate.

Valls said he wanted to wait until he receives a report from France’s road safety authority, the Conseil national de la sécurité routière, before making a final decision. A further announcement is expected to be made in February.

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The law, which was brought in to try and cut the number of road deaths linked to drink driving, required all drivers to carry an unused breathalyser test in their cars, either disposable ones or a reusable digital device. Any motorists caught flouting the law were subject to an €11 fine.

The interior minister also announced on Thursday that the number of road deaths in France dropped by 8 percent in 2012. The figure of 3.645 fatalities represented the lowest number of deaths since 1948, the year authorities began gathering the data.

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