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Car breathalyser fine enforcement delayed in France until further notice

20 February 2013

Green Flag Breakdown Service would like to warn motorists that, despite the postponement of proposed fines, driving in France without a breathalyser in the car is still illegal.

Fines to enforce the new law, which was introduced in July 2012, were due to come into effect on 1st March, but have now been suspended until further notice. At present, drivers, including visitors from the UK, face a caution if caught without the compulsory kit.

France’s Interior Minister, Manuel Valls reports that 2012 saw the lowest amount of road deaths since records began in 1948, as French motorists made breathalysers part of their driving routines. Fatalities fell 8 per cent from 2011 to only 3,645 for the year.

Despite these encouraging figures, Valls has made the decision to delay the on-the-spot fines as a result of on-going stock difficulties reported in certain regions.

With the Easter school holidays not far away, Green Flag is reminding all drivers planning a trip to France to order their kit well in advance to avoid disappointment because of the continuing high demand.

Miranda Schunke, spokesperson for Green Flag, said: “Although the fines have been delayed again, it has not changed the need to prepare thoroughly for trips abroad. We’d strongly advise all motorists considering driving in France to invest in some breathalysers well in advance of their trip, to avoid last minute panics, and more importantly, breaking the law.

“Breathalysers provide definitive proof to drivers who are unsure about whether they are over the limit or not, with the statistics suggesting that this is making roads safer. It’s crucial that drivers don’t take this requirement as a chance to drink before getting behind the wheel. Drink driving remains a serious problem throughout the UK and Europe, so we’d discourage drivers from consuming any alcohol at all before they get behind the wheel.”

The single-use breathalyser kit needed under the new rule can be used to check the driver's blood alcohol level. The legal limit in France is 0.5 grams per litre (50mg per 100ml of blood - lower than the 80mg limit in the UK). The new kit will allow people to test themselves as well as others if they suspect they are over the limit.

Single-use breathalyser tests carrying the blue circular "NF" logo are recommended in France to comply with the legislation (this is the equivalent of the BSI kite mark in Britain), and they can be purchased online ahead of travelling for between €0.50 and €1.50. However, there are many products being sold as French breathalysers, but these won’t necessarily satisfy the French police, unless they are on an approved list.

Green Flag is advising motorists to carry at least two NF certified breathalysers 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 is already required to carry a warning triangle and a fluorescent safety vest. The vest should be carried inside the car and not the car boot. Failure to have these in the car can still lead to a fine of €90. Other items required are headlamp adapters, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and spare bulbs for car lamps, lenses and reflectors.

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Miranda Schunke
Green Flag Press Office
Tel: 0208 266 3795
Mobile: 07766 472 690

Kia McLean
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Tel: 0207 282 1092