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France to finally scrap law obliging drivers to keep alcohol breathalyser kits in cars

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France to finally scrap law obliging drivers to keep alcohol breathalyser kits in cars
11:49 CEST+02:00
A confusing law that has forced (at least officially) drivers in France to keep at least one disposable breathaylser kit in their car at all times will finally be officially binned by the French government.

The law, which has always been surrounded by confusion and controversy, was first introduced back in March 2013.

Drivers were told they would need to keep at least one usable disposable breathalyser kit in their car and if they were stopped by police and found not to have one, they would be subject to an €11 fine.

But then the government of former President François Hollande decided to scrap the fines but still keep the actual law in place.

That meant drivers in France would not be punished when stopped by police but simply be reminded of the law.

While the law was forgotten about by most French drivers, motorists coming from Britain are still reminded of the need to buy the breathalyser kits when they cross the Channel.

Cross-Channel ferry company P&O make announcements to alert passengers to the need to carry the kits in France and to let them know the approved breathalysers are available in the onboard shop for £5.99.

READ ALSO: Fake laws - The real rules for driving in France you need to know

Breathalyser kits still flying off the shelves in the shops of P&O ferries. The Local

One shop assistant told The Local they still did a roaring trade in the sale of the breathalysers to British drivers, many of whom may not be aware they won't face any punishment.

The breathalysers themselves state on the box that "from 1st March 2013 all vehicles travelling in France MUST, by law, be carrying NF approved breathalysers", without mentioning that drivers would not be fined.

The Local

They also remind drivers the kits go out of date so they need to be replaced.

But soon the confusion around the law should be gone for good when the French government's new bill covering transport and mobility (Le projet de loi d'orientation des mobilités) is adopted into law.

The bill, which is going through parliament, includes an article saying the law obliging drivers to carry breathalysers will be scrapped.

The government justified the move by saying it had not proven to be effective at cutting drink-driving, which is still one of the biggest causes of fatalities on French roads.

"The feasibility and effectiveness of this obligation have not been proven," the government said when the move was first announced.

There was much controversy when the law was first brought out in France when it emerged the head of the lobby group demanding the government introduce the requirement was an executive at one of the companies licensed to make the breathalysers.

In 2018, 3,259 people died on French roads, although that number is set to rise in 2019.

Alcohol is believed to be responsible for around one third of road deaths in France.

Even though the obligation to keep breathalysers in the glove compartment will soon disappear, that's not to say drivers shouldn't think about keeping one or two at hand.

Pierre Chasseray, the head of motorist group 40 Millions d'automobilistes told The Local that he would advise British drivers to keep them in their cars so they can use them to know if they are over the limit or not.

Not least because the drink drive limit is lower in France than in the UK.

France has very strict drink driving laws . You are allowed a maximum of 0.5mg/ml of alcohol per litre in your blood, compared to 0.8mg/ml in the UK. Although for young drivers in France the limit is even lower - 0.2 mg/ml.

If you have between 0.5 and 0.8mg of alcohol in your blood you could be fined between €135 to €750 and lose 6 points off your licence. 


Ethylotest - breathaylser kit

un rappel à la loi - reminder of the law

une amende - a fine

un côntrole - a police stop




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