The French government’s decision to put back indefinitely plans to fine drivers for failing to keep a breathalyser kit in their vehicle illustrates the lack of knowledge British visitors have of drink-drive restrictions whilst on the continent, says a organisation specialising in French holidays.
France’s Minister of Interior has announced that fines for drivers who don’t have a breathalyser kit in their car, have been shelved, these were scheduled to come into force on 1 March 2013. All drivers in France are obligated to carry a breathalyser, and all those without would have been liable for an €11 (£9.50) fine. In addition, drivers in France are required to carry a warning triangle and a high-visibility safety vest. According to UK based French holiday cottage specialists gites.co.uk, British drivers must still take heed of the breathalyser rule, and be mindful of France’s more robust drink drive limits.
“Even though traffic police won’t have the power to issue fines,” said Duncan Pollard, “you should still carry one of the readily-available disposable kits with you as part of your in-car safety equipment.
“Many people don’t realise that the drink-drive limit in France is around half that of the UK, and the kit should serve as a reminder of the tougher laws on the continent.”
A typical penalty for drink-driving in France is a €135 (£116) fine plus penalty points. Those guilty of an “aggravated” offence – and that’s with blood/alcohol levels above the current UK limit – can face up to €4,500 (£3,900) in fines and two years imprisonment.
“France may be well known for its wine and café culture,” said Duncan Pollard, “but there is little tolerance for those who mix it with driving. British visitors who are used to our country’s more liberal limit should be aware of the tighter laws on the continent.
“In fact, there are some countries that have a zero tolerance to driving under the influence, so our advice is to stay off the booze entirely if you’re planning on getting behind the wheel, and enjoy your holiday.”
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