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French breathalyzer law takes effect

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.

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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French national park bans alcohol over the summer months

A French national park has banned alcohol over the summer months after a spate of accidents.

French national park bans alcohol over the summer months
The gorges of the Ardèche are known as the 'French grand canyon' Photo: AFP

The gorges of the Ardèche region – a national park in southern France very popular with hikers, campers and canoeists – has banned alcohol from the campsites and the river until September 30th.

“Hikers and boaters are prohibited from keeping alcoholic beverages for consumption in the bivouacs of Gaud and Gournier [the only areas where camping in the gorges is permitted] and on the river domain,” said the order issued by the Préfect of the Ardèche.


The area is very popular for canoeing. Photo: AFP

The temporary order began on May 1st and runs until September 30th.

The ban is intended to “put an end to the many accidents caused by drunkenness”, the préfecture told FranceInfo, which also specifies that regular checks will be carried out and that non-compliance with this order will be subject to sanctions.

Over previous summer seasons fighting, dangerous behaviour and drunken accidents have become a problem for police and park warders in the area.

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