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PODCAST: Why France will remain divided whoever wins Sunday’s election

With the big debate over and the final polling day just days away, The Local's Talking France podcast is back to take a final look at all the latest from the presidential elections.

PODCAST: Why France will remain divided whoever wins Sunday's election
Image: The Local

Ben McPartland spoke to our veteran political columnist John Lichfield to get his analysis of the head-to-head TV debate between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

He told us: “Macron was surprisingly aggressive. He didn’t land a knockout punch but then he didn’t really need to, the momentum of the campaign is with him now.”

Listen to the podcast on Spotify, Apple or HERE.

And The Local France’s editor Emma Pearson takes us through what happens on polling day on Sunday – and then what happens in the days immediately after, whether Macron or Le Pen wins, and then looks ahead to the parliamentary elections in June.

We’re answering questions from our readers – including a question from Ellen who asked whether it’s possible to vote in the second round if you haven’t voted in round one. 

And as ever we’re taking a look at some of the French vocabulary around the election, and discussing whether there’s really a market for a reality TV show based around a house-share between Macron and the far-left politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon. 

To listen to all the episodes of Talking France, click here.

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France proposes getting rid of penalties for ‘minor’ speeding offences

The French government is considering changing speeding laws so that drivers will not lose points on their licence if they are caught going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

France proposes getting rid of penalties for 'minor' speeding offences

France’s Interior Ministry is considering changing its current rules for minor speeding violations – proposing getting rid of the penalty for drivers who only violate the rule by going just a few kilometres over the speed limit.

The Ministry has not laid out a timeline for when this could come into effect, but they said they are currently in the preliminary stages of studying how the change could be carried out.

“The fine of course remains,” said the Interior Ministry to French daily Le Parisien.

That is to say you can still be fined for going five kilometres over the speed limit, but there might not be any more lost points for driving a couple kilometres over the posted limit. 

READ ALSO These are the offences that can cost you points on your driving licence

Of the 13 million speeding tickets issued each year in France, 58 percent are for speeding violations of less than 5 km per hour over the limit, with many coming from automated radar machines.

How does the current rule work?

The rule itself is already a bit flexible, depending on where the speeding violation occurs.

If the violation happens in an urban area or low-speed zone (under 50 km per hour limit), then it is considered a 4th class offence, which involves a fixed fine of €135. Drivers can also lose a point on their licences as a penalty for this offence. 

Whereas, on highways and high-speed roads, the consequences of speeding by 5 km per hour are less severe. The offence is only considered 3rd class, which means the fixed fine is €68. There is still the possibility of losing a point on your licence, however. 

How do people feel about this?

Pierre Chasseray, a representative from the organisation “40 Millions d’Automobilistes,” thinks the government should do away with all penalties for minor speeding offences, including fines. He told French daily Le Parisien that this is only a “first step.”

Meanwhile, others are concerned that the move to get rid of points-deductions could end up encouraging people to speed, as they’ll think there is no longer any consequence.

To avoid being accused of carelessness, France’s Interior Ministry is also promising to become “firmer” with regards to people who use other people’s licences in order to get out of losing points – say by sending their spouse’s or grandmother’s instead of their own after being caught speeding. The Interior Ministry plans to digitalise license and registration in an effort to combat this. 

Ultimately, if you are worried about running out of points on your licence, there are still ways to recover them.

You can recover your points after six months of driving without committing any other offences, and there are also awareness training courses that allow you to gain your points back. It should be noted, however, that these trainings typically cost between €150 and €250, and they do not allow you to regain more than four points.