From Sunday 1 July foreign motorists in France, as well as locals, must keep two breathalysers in their vehicle at all times. With thousands of Brits driving to France annually, this law will certainly affect a considerable number of holidaymakers leaving the UK this summer.
The penalty for not carrying breathalysers is an on-the-spot fine of 11 euro. The French police has announced that it intends on targeting visitors arriving into busy ferry ports, like Calais. Therefore tourists catching the ferry from popular harbours like Portsmouth and Dover, as well as those driving via the Channel Tunnel, should buy breathalysers before reaching the mainland. Likewise, travellers are advised to remember to keep the devices within easy reach in the car, such as in the glove box, to avoid having to rummage through suitcases in the event of a check.
A recent survey by Halfords Motors revealed that six out of ten British citizens journeying from Dover to Calais were unaware of the new law. The survey also divulged that most Britons believe the alcohol limit to be higher in France than in the UK; in fact the French limit is 50mg of alcohol to 100ml of blood, which is notably lower than the UK limit of 80mg to 100ml. This suggests that many of those holidaying in France this summer could receive a fine for omitting to pack breathalysers.
Graver still, those who drive over the alcohol limit risk a 4500 euro fine, loss of their drivers licence and two years in prison. This severe penalty is part of France's zero tolerance policy on road safety in an effort to reduce the number of driving related accidents in France. In 2007 there were 4,620 deaths on French roads, 29 per cent of which were caused by alcohol according to the Observatoire National Interministériel de Sécurité Routière.
The aim of the law is to encourage motorists to breathalyse themselves before getting behind the wheel. As result, holidaymakers are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the equipment, which only shows an accurate reading forty minutes after the last drink. Head of AA road safety, Andrew Howard, underlined: "After you have had your last swig of alcohol, your reading will continue to rise for the next 40 minutes because it takes time for alcohol to go down into your stomach and be taken into the bloodstream."
Breathalysers are available for about £1 or £2 and can be bought from the channel tunnel and ferry ports.
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