France's new winter tire rules: Drivers won't face fines in first year

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France's new winter tire rules: Drivers won't face fines in first year
A woman puts snow socks on the tyres of her car. (Photo by Pascal POCHARD-CASABIANCA / AFP)

Motorists in 48 French départements set to introduce winter tire regulations from November 1st can relax - the government has said no one will face fines for breaking the rules this year.


The Loi Montage II (mountain law II) was signed into effect in 2020 and had meant that, from November 1st 2021, drivers in 48 of mainland France's 96 départements were legally required to have winter or all-weather tires fitted to their vehicles, or carry chains in the boot of their vehicles.

It covers anyone driving in: Ain, Allier, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Ardèche, Ariège, Aude, Aveyron, Cantal, Corrèze, Côte-d'Or, Creuse, Doubs, Drôme, Gard, Haute-Garonne, Hérault, Isère, Jura, Loire, Haute-Loire, Lot, Lozère, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Moselle, Nièvre, Puy-de-Dôme, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Hautes-Pyrénées, Pyrénées-Orientales, Bas-Rhin, Haut-Rhin, Rhône, Haute-Saône, Saône-et-Loire, Savoie, Haute-Savoie, Tarn, Tarn-et-Garonne, Var, Vaucluse, Haute-Vienne, Vosges, Yonne, Territoire de Belfort and the whole of the island of Corsica.

Under the law, anyone who drives without the correct tires or chains could be fined €135.


Until the announcement, nearly two-thirds of motorists (65 percent) were unaware the law was due to come into force, according to a by Opinionway for tire specialist Point-S. 

The rush to comply with the law led to a shortage of winter tires in parts of the country.

But there will be a year’s grace before any fines or serious crackdown for failing to comply with the general law, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has revealed. 

“Future breaches of the requirement to keep snow chains in your boot or to fit winter tires in the departments concerned will not be punished this winter,” he said.

“Education and information campaigns will take place alongside the introduction of this rule in the next few weeks.”

Police officers may instead pull over drivers and warn them about the new requirements.

His comments came after Secretary of State for Rural Issues Joël Giraud told L'Est Républicain newspaper that the decision to delay implementing the law was because "road signage would not be completely ready by November 1st". 

Signs in the areas affected by the tire rule will show a symbol of a mountain with a suitcase of chains and a tire.

Giraud noted, too, that the law merely specifies that ‘special equipment’ that is capable of handling winter conditions is required in the 48 départements listed - meaning chains, snow socks, winter tires, or all-season tires were acceptable. 

"I have the impression that manufacturers and snow tire dealers are playing a little music to make people believe that snow tires are mandatory," he said.

The law will now be enforced with fines from November 1st, 2022.


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