Halfords reckons that personal breathalyser sales have shot up since France announced that all drivers of ‘motorised land vehicles’ (expect mopeds) must carry one, else face an on-the-spot fine of €11 (around £7).
The legal requirement comes into effect on 1st July, just in time for the summer holidays, here are reports that French police have been instructed not to fine drivers who are found not be carrying a breathalyser until 1st November, but whether or not this applies to tourists remains to be seen.
The new law has been introduced as an attempt to reduce drink-driving in France. The French government thinks that having a breathalyser in the car will allow drivers to check if they’re over the limit and take the appropriate steps, if so.
3,970 people died on French roads in 2011 (274 in March alone), compared to down 3992 in 2010. When President Nicolas Sarkozy was elected in 2007, he pledged to reduce road deaths to 3,000 by 2012.
31% of fatal road accidents in France are the result of drink-driving and the new breathalyser law was first proposed last November as a way to reduce this figure.
The French drink-driving limit is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, which is well below the UK’s limit of 80mg and is roughly the equivalent of two glasses of wine.
Motorists in France found with a level of between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol in their blood can be fined €135 (£112); drivers with over 80mg can face a prison sentence of up to two years.
Halfords sells a twin-pack of single-use breathalysers for £4.99, so it makes sense to carry a pack if travelling through France summer — or more, if you plan on using one before driving.
The new breathalyser requirement adds to the existing rules that require all cars in France to carry a warning triangle and a fluorescent safety vest.
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