Improving road safety is an ongoing struggle for just about every government in the world. Sometimes they intervene, and in the process genuinely help the situation. Sometimes these interventions aren’t quite so successful. Recently, we have the case of the French government, which in 2013 decided to require that foreign motorists carry a breathalyser kit with them. There was going to be an €11 fine for those that failed to comply – but then the incoming president Francois Hollande decided that there wasn’t going to be a fine, but there was going to be a requirement. A crime without punishment isn’t much of a deterrent, and the new rules failed to have much, if any impact, on the way that foreign drivers actually behaved.
What are the drink-drive limits in France?
The drink-drive limit in France is a measly 0.05%, which compares with 0.08% in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. For younger drivers, it’s even lower, at a measly 0.02% for the first three years on the road (meaning that such drivers are effectively banned from drinking while they’re behind the wheel). If you regularly drive to Scotland, you might already be familiar with this way of doing things: their limit is set down at 0.02%, too.
As such, drivers who might have been within the limit on one side of the channel would be driving illegally on the other. So, the breathalyser rule was intended to help drivers to stay within the law, but, as part of a raft of reforms, the breathalyser law is getting chucked.
Now, while the law is going to be withdrawn in the near future, that doesn’t mean that taking a breathalyser kit isn’t a good idea. If you are caught over the limit, then you’ll be in serious trouble, as the law over there is even stricter than it is over here. Whether you’re driving in a personal or professional capacity, getting caught can have life changing consequences – and even if you don’t get caught, you might change someone else’s life for the worse.
Of course, the safest way is to not drink at all – that way you’ll be at your sharpest, whichever country you’re in. We’d therefore suggest keeping your intake down to zero when you’re on the road. If you’re taking the van down through Europe, you can always stop off somewhere for the night if you’d like to sample the local reds. In fact, if you’re driving across entire countries, making the time for an extended rest break is almost always the safest way to proceed.
At the risk of belabouring this point, we’re in agreement with RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis, who commented: “The best advice is to never drink and drive, whether driving in France or elsewhere.” Motoring advice doesn’t get much more straightforward than that.
If you’re planning on driving in France in the near future, then you’ll have one less thing to worry about – just remember that you need to drive on the other side of the road!