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French ministers u-turn on breathalyser fines

France's interior ministry has performed a u-turn by postponing plans to fine drivers not carrying breathalysers.

Drivers caught without a portable breathalyser after 1 March were due to be fined EUR11 by police.

Since July last year, all French drivers were required to carry breathalysers by law. Foreigners were given extra time to comply.  

But, after several months of debate, the law has descended into confusion. This month, France’s interior minister, Manuel Valls, said fines will not be enforced for the time being and that carrying breathalysers is not ‘obligatory’.

However, in advice to tourists, Duncan Pollard, of French holiday specialist gites.co.uk, said that ‘even though traffic police won’t have the power to issue fines, you should still carry one of the readily-available disposable kits.

‘Many people don’t realise that the drink-drive limit in France is around half that of the UK, and the kit should serve as a reminder,’ he said.

France’s limit is 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. There is an 80mg limit in the UK, although there has been pressure to lower this in the past couple of years.

‘France may be well known for its wine and café culture, but there is little tolerance for those who mix it with driving,’ said Pollard. A typical penalty for drink-driving in France is a EUR135 fine plus penalty points.

Written by Chris Mercer

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