Update 7th October 2012: Shortage of tests means the start of fines is delayed until March 1 and Interior Minister Manuel Valls says he will meantime evaluate the usefulness of the law – let’s hope it is scrapped!
New Driving Laws in France
As of January 5, 2012, a number of new measures affecting motorists and bikers in France were announced by the Minister for the Interior.
These driving law reforms were first announced by President Sarkozy on November 30, based on decisions made in spring 2011 by the Interministerial Committee for Road Safety.
All Motorists and Bikers
The possession, transport and use of GPS radar warning devices which correlate data on the position of the radar with the position of the vehicle calculated by the GPS is now prohibited. Usage is subject to a fine of 1,500 euros, licence penalty 6 points and the confiscation of the device or vehicle if the device is attached to it. The use of “active” radar detectors has always been illegal.
However, warning of dangerous and accident-prone areas which are not simply radar traps is still allowed, and these can be legally downloaded to your GPS. Radar checks, both fixed and mobile, may “coincidentally” be among these but manufacturers have pledged not simply to report the location of radars, so the number of identified hazard areas will be far higher than the number of radars to encourage motorists to moderate their overall speed.
Driving while distracted by other activities
This decree increases the sanctions against the use of a hand-held phone. The fine goes up from 35 to 135 euros and licence penalty from 2 to 3 points.
The police have reported that some “foreign truck drivers” watch TV while driving, so watching a screen device operating in the field of vision (other than a driver assistance and navigation type GPS) by the driver of a vehicle in motion, now becomes liable to a fine of 1500 euros (instead of 135 euros) and the licence penalty of 3 points (instead of 2 points).
Other new measures
For a license plate that does not comply in terms of typeface and spacing the fine increases from 68 to 135 euros.
Straying even momentarily into the autoroute emergency lane, fine of 135 euros and licence penalty three points. This follows cases of vehicles drifting out of control due to inattention or drowsiness.
Compulsory to carry a breathalyser in the vehicle
The minister announced that from a date to be fixed (probably 1 April 2012) all cars must carry an alcohol breathalyser test. Simple test kits can be bought from pharmacies, service stations and some supermarkets for under 2 euros, or electronic ones from about 10 euros. There are even small electronic key ring versions for about 6-8 euros. Motorists who fail to carry an alcohol test device in the car will incur a fine of 17 euros. The breathalyser joins the list of existing mandatory equipment for vehicles – safety vest and triangle emergency warning. The existing fine for missing these is 135 euros for (90 euros if the fine is paid on the spot).
Failure to use, disabling or failure to maintain in working order an alcohol lock where the vehicle is fitted with one is now punishable by a fine of 750 euros. The Highway Code states that any driver of a vehicle equipped with a mandatory alcohol lock device must use this prior to starting the vehicle.
Not later than 1 January 2013, all riders or passengers of a motorcycle with a cylinder capacity exceeding 125 cc or a vehicle of category L5e (e.g.trike) exceeding 15 kW, must wear reflective clothing complying either to French standards or to other standards of an equivalent level of safety.
The reflective area can be divided in several parts over the clothing, but must have a total surface area of at least 150 cm2 visible to other road users. The material does not have to be fluorescent – only reflective – and the colour is not fixed – it is likely that material that appears red, green or even black in daylight will conform as long as it reflects in headlights at night.
The reflective material must be worn on the upper body, between the belt line and the shoulders, so as to be visible to other road users.
The Ministry of Transport might in 2012 also make compulsory the wearing of gloves and shoes deemed suitable for driving a bike – this has to be decided.
Source material (in French)
The measures are laid out in the speech given by the Minister of the Interior on the 5th January here :
and there is a good summary here: