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Oh La La! New French Breathalyzer Law

Oh La La! New French Breathalyzer Law


Despite (or perhaps because of) their passion for le vin, France has enacted a law making it mandatory for motorists – including those driving rental vehicles - to carry a breathalyzer in their vehicle.



Coming into force from next month, the new law aims to reduce the drink-drive mortality rate by 25% from 4,000 to 3,000 deaths per year. Currently one in three deaths on French roads are due to drink-driving – a higher rate than the UK.

The French authorities will accept disposable breathalyzer kits that cost around £2. The test will allow motorists to check whether their blood/alcohol levels are less than the legal maximum of 50mg per 100ml.   

With at least 3 million Brits visiting France each year, the rules come into force in time for the holiday season. Vehicle hire companies are being urged to inform their customers of this law should at least part of the hirer’s journey takes place in France. If a customer rents their vehicle in France, the rental company will provide the breathalyzer kit, whereas if the vehicle is hired in the UK the onus is on the driver.

Motorists in France are already legally required to carry a warning triangle and reflective jackets.

Whilst the new breathalyzer rules will not be actively enforced until November this year, the world will undoubtedly be watching to see what impact such measures will have.

What are your opinions on this story? Will the law reduce roadside deaths, or is it simply well-intentioned but flawed in practice? Let us know!