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Half of motorists risk fines in France

20 Jun 2012 at 09:50

Half of motorists are unaware that from the 1st July it has become illegal to travel in France without carrying a personal breathalyser kit in your car.

According to a survey by the Institute of Advanced Motorists, around 1,150 of the 2,300 people asked were oblivious to the new legislation.

However, there is a caveat to this. If it’s a legal requirement to carry a breathalyser in your vehicle, but a conviction can’t be brought about by evidence gained through using one, then what’s the purpose of having a self-test kit?

It’s to help broaden awareness of drink-driving: French authorities have decided that blowing into “the tube” yourself will better educate motorists as to the risks of drink driving. If a driver can see they are over the limit after a few drinks, the authorities hope they should be dissuaded from driving home.

The only question here is one of morals: surely if someone is inclined to drink and drive in the first place, their moral compass won’t be pointing towards a self-induced alcohol test after they’ve finished drinking?

However, despite general scepticism on the impact of the new changes, it seems compliance is set to be high among British motorists travelling to the continent.

According to the study, 75 per cent of respondents will be picking up a kit for their journey, while only seven per cent admitted they had no plans to adhere to the new rules. 18 per cent were oblivious to the regulation changes or hadn’t thought about it.

More generally, even if you do pick up a breathalyser before you travel, remember that traffic laws are different in France and there’s other equipment you need to carry by law too. Top 10 tips for driving in France.

There’s another difference particularly salient to the breathalyser laws, too. The legal limit across the channel (in France, at least) is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood: here in the UK the bar stands at 80mg per 100ml.

Also bear in mind that if you’re caught over France’s higher limit – the same as in Britain – you risk up to two years in prison and a €4,500 fine. That last drink doesn’t seem worth it now, does it?