Drivers unaware of foreign drink-drive limits as French law shelved

Drivers unaware of foreign drink-drive limits as French law shelved

The French government’s decision to postpone indefinitely plans to fine drivers for failing to carry a breathalyser kit in their car highlights the lack of knowledge British visitors have of drink-drive limits when on the continent, says a company specialising in French holidays.

France’s Minister of Interior has announced fines for motorists who do not carry a kit in their vehicle - previously due to come into force on 1 March - have been shelved. All drivers in France are required to carry a breathalyser, and those without would have been liable for an €11 (£9.50) fine. Additionally, drivers in France must also carry a warning triangle and a high-visibility safety vest.

According to UK-based French holiday cottage specialists gites.co.uk, British drivers should still take heed of the breathalyser rule, and be aware of France’s tougher 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.”

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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.”

Current drink-drive limits around Europe include (mg per 100 ml of blood):

UK 80mg
France 50mg
Germany 50mg
Ireland 50mg
Belgium 50mg
Netherlands 50mg
Poland 20mg
Norway 20mg
Sweden 20mg
Czech Rep 0mg
Russia 0mg