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'Bonjour' breathalyser

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The beginning of this month unleashed new motoring laws in France, so for those planning a road trip to France, take note!

It is now a legal requirement for motorists to have a personal breathalyser in their vehicles. Failure to do so will result in a fine of 11 Euros. The French Government hopes this will reduce the amount of deaths caused by drink drivers and this will be legally enforceable to foreign drivers from 1st November 2012.

This is a new requirement for motorists to comply with when travelling in France. This sits firmly alongside the other requirements; to have hi-vis vests for all passengers, a warning triangle, headlamp converters. In addition, no sat navs which alert the driver to speed cameras are permitted.

The breathalysers have to be French government approved, displaying the symbol NF. It is believed that there will be two variations of the kit, one expensive reusable kit and a cheaper version. All motorists are advised to have two kits, so when one is used another remains in case of legal inspection.

I fail to see how this new law will reduce drink fuelled road accidents, in that those individuals willing to drink and drive are aware they over the limit yet still take their seat behind the wheel. For these drivers, to have a breathalyser in their car will not make a difference. Every car has indicators yet I have met many drivers that appear not to be aware they exist.

The breathalysers may be beneficial for those who have had a couple of glasses of wine and need confirmation they are over the limit.  However, the accuracy of such breathalyser kits has been questioned as evident by the concerns of Andrew Howard, AA’s head of road safety. He conveys that the readings they provide fail to take into account the period of time alcohol takes to be absorbed into the blood stream. 

This new legal requirement just seems like another expense to motorists.  If you drink then don’t drive! The time and money taken to implement this law should be taken to educate the public and impose stricter penalties for those drink drivers.

The French drink-driving limit is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood whilst the UK limit has the significantly less amount of 80mg. The UK has less drink driving tragedies than France even though our limit is higher and our population is not much more than our neighbour.

So before you all say bonjour to your berets, don’t forget your breathalysers or it will be au revoir to 11 Euros!

By personal injury specialist, Gabrielle Bann-Khellaf