France orders breathalyser for motorists


Many motorists at Dover, Britain, are unaware of the new French law

A new law has come into force in France making it compulsory for drivers to carry a breathalyser kit in their vehicles or risk an on-the-spot fine.

It is the latest move by the government aimed at bringing down the number of road deaths caused by alcohol.

All motorists must also have with them a high-visibility safety vest and a warning triangle.

Foreign drivers are included in the new rule, however there is a grace period until November.

Some 4,000 people are killed on French roads every year, with drink-driving being the main factor in accidents ahead even of speeding.

Bonanza for manufacturers

The French government hopes that with breathalysers in every car, drivers who suspect they may be over the limit can test themselves and if necessary refrain from taking the wheel.

The former government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, which gave the go-ahead to the new law, said it hoped 500 lives might be saved every year.

A woman uses a breathalyser (Ethylotest) on June 26, 2012 in the French western city of Quimper Motorists driving without the two breathalyser tests will be handed a fine of 11 euros

Under the rules, which exclude mopeds, drivers who fail to produce a breathalyser after 1 November will face a fine of 11 euros.

The kits come in two types: expensive electronic ones which can be reused; and cheap chemical ones, says the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris.

Tens of millions of the kits are going to have to be supplied, but right now there is a shortage, which is one reason for the four-month grace period, our correspondent says.

He adds that the new rule is proving a bonanza for manufacturers, of which there are only two in France.

Meanwhile, drivers' groups opposing the measure say it has been foisted on France by clever industry lobbying.

To enforce the regulations, French police say they plan to carry out random checks on those entering the country through the Channel Tunnel, as well as drivers arriving on ferries.

Retailers in Britain say sales of breathalysers have risen considerably due to the law, the Press Association reports.

Car accessory retailer Halfords said there had been unprecedented demand, but said that 6 out of 10 Britons travelling to France were not aware of the changes.

The drink-driving limit in France is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood - 30mg less than the UK limit.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Having them in the car is one thing - but having people use them is another, and would be hard to enforce.

    Most people will have them, as required, but get the cheapest, single use type, so not use them as they don't want to have to pay for replacements.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    Ultimately if it saves lives then it can only be worthwhile.

    As a non-drinker the kit is an expense I'll simply have to accept when driving in France.

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    What a crazy idea, will blowing in a bag stop someone who is drunk from getting behind the wheel, unlikely! I hope our Govt don't try to introduce something like this, far better to try and change the culture of people getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol. Reduce the limits, ban those who are caught for life, confiscate and crush their the number of offences fall!

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    This will not prevent the most dangerous drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. They know they are drunk - why would they breathalyze themselves?

    This will only be effective against people who've had one or two glasses of wine for example and feel they may be over the limit.

    Also, let's hope these kits don't cost too much. If they do, people will be put off using them when they should.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    To me this really seems like a great result for breathalyser manufacturers and just another way to con the motorist.

    What'll it be next - use by dates on the cheap 'use once' kits, to force us to buy them every few months?!

    Just a con in my opinion. If you've had a drink - don't drive. All this rubbish about milligrams makes no sense. Zero tolerance does - no ambiguity.


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