Slash alcohol limits for young drivers: report

The Local
The Local - [email protected] • 9 Sep, 2014 Updated Tue 9 Sep 2014 12:14 CEST

Alcohol limits for new drivers need to be cut dramatically if France is to improve road safety, according to the results of a confidential new report.


The interior ministry report recommends slashing the legal blood-alcohol limit for new drivers from 0.5g/L (grams per litre) to 0.2g/L, according to newspaper Le Parisien, which has had access to the 319-page document.

"Given the inexperience of new drivers, their accident rates and the impact on reaction time of even small amounts of alcohol, a reduction of the amount of alcohol allowed for novice drivers makes sense," the report says.

The move would bring France in line with Ireland, Greece, Portugal and Luxembourg, which have similar rules for novice drivers, Le Parisien reports. Neighbours Germany, Switzerland and Italy meanwhile do not allow motorists to drink and drive at all in the first two or three years after getting a licence.

For some motorists, depending mainly on body size, a single glass of beer or wine would be enough to push them over the limit.

The report was commissioned earlier this year by France's now prime minister, Manuel Valls, who at the time was the country's top cop.

Explaining the need to tackle a problem that especially afflicts young drivers, Valls said at the time: “In 2013, drivers aged 18 to 24 who had consumed alcohol were involved in every second accident between midnight and 6am on Saturdays and Sundays.”

For novice drivers found to have a blood alcohol level between 0.2g/L and 0.5g/L, the report's authors proposed either adding six penalty points to their licences or revoking the permit entirely for a year. 

The report noted that some road safety associations felt the proposal to cut the limit for new drivers did not tackle the real problem. These groups stressed that the majority of motorists involved in fatal accidents when drunk had a much higher blood alcohol level of more than 1.5g/L. 

Interior ministry sources told Le Parisien they would discuss the proposals laid out in the report with all other ministries concerned before deciding what action to take.

In an earlier move to curb drink-driving, France attracted international attention for its attempt to make breathalyzer kits mandatory in all vehicles.

The controversial legislation came into effect last summer but the government suspended the law in January this year as depleted stocks made breathalyzer kits hard to come by and experts questioned their reliability.

SEE ALSO: France suspends law on breathalyzer kits


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