As if there is not enough already to think about when hiring or leasing long term a vehicle in France. For some of us we find ourselves having to drive on the 'wrong' side of the road. From 1 July 2012 all drivers in France will be required to carry breathalyser kits in their vehicle when driving. Theoretically, having the kits will encourage drivers to self test so that they can determine if they are over the legal alcohol limit. Current reports recommend drivers to carry two of the single-use kits so that if they use one they will still have one to meet the requirements of carrying one. The penalty for not carrying one of the kits will be 11 euros. A period of grace until 1 November 2012 is expected to be applied.
I am not sure of the effectiveness of such a scheme in reducing road deaths and injuries as a result of drink-driving. If people already brazenly get in their cars and drive, having consumed excessive amounts of alcohol and knowing the penalties for drink-driving, then I think there is little likelihood that the testing kit will see them refrain from getting behind the wheel. I hope I am wrong and that it will impact on people's behaviour and stop them risking the lives of others as well as themselves.
The introduction of the law regarding breathalysers is in addition to a plethora of existing laws that visiting motorists driving in France need to be abide:
- Warning triangle and a fluorescent safety vest are required to be carried at all times. I have also read but have not been able to verify that a driver may be fined if the vest is stocked in the boot rather than within arm's length of the driver. I could not however find the requirement about the proximity of the vest on the French Government Sécurité Routière site.
- Some British websites advise that there is a law pertaining to rendering assistance in times of roadside emergency. Perhaps motorists need to carry a first-aid kit and fire extinguisher too. Again when checking on the Goverment website I could not find such information. I expect that rendering assistance may be a general law which extends beyond driving.
- Radar detectors were banned from 5 January 2012. This included those incorporated into portable and integrated GPS systems and those which appeared in mobile phone applications. It is the drivers responsibility that their GPS is updated to conform to this requirement.
Currently vehicles leased by expatriates through programmes such as 'Peugeot Open Europe' and delivered in France include the reflective vest and triangle on collection. This was certainly our case in April 2011. No mention however is currently made on their website regarding arrangements for breathalyser kits when leasing these vehicles. It is probably too early yet for the information to appear on their sites. Until such time as the position regarding the provision of the breathalyser kits is made clear by rental and long-term leasing companies I would suggest that it be prudent to ensure that you have a couple of them with you before venturing forth upon collecting your vehicle in France from 1 July 2012.
This is an opinion post and has no legal basis. Whilst writing this post I found many websites with contradictory information regarding driving in France. There appears to be a large number of urban myths surrounding the topic and copied from one site to the next. I recommend referring to the French Government Sécurité Routière site for accurate and up to date information on driving in France.