Thursday, 28 June 2012

Take a deep breath - French breathalyzer law

The French deliver a 'blow' for sobriety

There has been some confusion so far about the new law coming in in France which states that all motor vehicles (apart from mopeds) must carry a single use breathalyzer at all times.

Although the law will come in on the 1st of July it will not be enforced until the 1st of November 2012, so there is a period of grace in which to buy one, or preferably two, of these delightful little accessories for your bike if you are going to France in the foreseeable future. In a nutshell, although the law will come in this weekend, the police will not actually start fining people for not carrying a breathalyzer until 1st of November this year.

Exactly what you need...

What you need to carry is a French NF approved Digital Breathalyzer or a 'readily accessible' Breathalyzer kit. The cheapest solution is a disposable breathalyzer kit which costs around £2.99 but you will need to carry two so that the driver can use one (although he/she won't actually have to use their own) and the other can be inspected.
The only way you could be exempt from carrying either of these, is if you have a Breathalyzer Ignition Interlock fitted to your vehicle.

Non non non... vous etes IVRE!!

Just in case you don't know what a Breathalyzer Interlock (or alcolock in common parlance) is, it is a breathalyzer fitted to your ignition system so that you can't switch your vehicle on without blowing into the fitted breathalyzer first. If it then deems you to be over the limit it will stamp its tiny electronic foot and will not start your car or bike until you have sobered up.

But Monsieur Gendarme I am an ignorant foreigner

Pleading ignorance of the law won't help either, as vehicles from other countries will be required to carry them while in France and will be fined 11 Euros if they don't. Also if you are fined one morning and stopped later the same day and still haven't got one you will be fined again, so it pays to get it sorted or your French holiday might prove to be very expensive.  The legal blood alcohol limit in France is 0.5 grams per litre as opposed to 0.8 per litre in the UK.

Although you will need to carry a breathalyzer, the Gendarme should not ask you to use it, they will use their own, but you are legally required to carry one just like you have to carry a spare tyre. And it doesn't matter if you are teetotal or on the wagon or haven't had a drop when you are tested - just failure to carry one is enough to get you a fine.

You snooze you lose

Although this may not make you ivre de joie, it does pay to take it on board (the breathalyzer kit that is) in time for the November deadline or get your 11 Euros ready as you drive off the ferry...


  1. Hey hi...i just go through the post. it's really awesome. I think it will help me a lot. it's very helpful and informative. Thank you for sharing.

    where to buy a Breathalyzer

  2. Hi Allric, thanks very much for your feedback, it's much appreciated. Really glad the info was helpful for you, all the best.