7 February 2012

Breathalyser kits to be compulsory in France

France has a high rate of injuries and deaths from motor vehicle accidents - roughly twice that for the UK per head of population. Drink-driving remains a significant factor in many accidents, so to try and improve the situation every car driver, including visitors to the country, must carry a single-use breathalyzer kit from July 1st 2012.

However, anyone caught without the kit will not immediately face the £11 (€14) fine, which police are to start issuing from November 1st 2012.

The single-use breathalyzer kit can be used to check the driver's blood alcohol level. The legal limit in France is 0.5 grams per litre. Single-use breathalyzers cost between £1.50 and £2.00 and the French authorities are trying to make sure there are enough available before the law comes into force.

Breathalyser test kits carrying the "NF" label are recommended in France, manufactured by Contralco and Red Line. UK drivers should be able to purchase such kits from their chemist. We understand that some ferry companies intend to sell appropriate kits at their port shops, and will confirm this later.

Motorists are being advised to have at least two breathalyzers in the vehicle at all times, so that one can be used if necessary while the other is kept to produce if requested by police.

Anyone driving in France must carry a warning triangle and a fluorescent safety vest for each vehicle occupant. The vest should be carried inside the car and not the boot. Failure to have these in the car can lead to a fine of €90. And unless you have a number plate incorporating the GB logo you should affix a separate GB sticker to your vehicle. Also ensure you have headlamp stickers to avoid dazzle to oncoming vehicles.

Other items recommended but not mandatory are a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and and spare bulbs.

More information about driving in France
Country by country guide to driving in Europe

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