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!
Further to earlier articles on the new road traffic laws for France in 2012, it has been confirmed that new law in France requiring drivers to carry a breathalyser in their vehicles (known in France as “alcootest” or “ethylotest”) will apply not only to cars but also to motorbikes and scooters.
Motorbikes, Cars and Scooters
The government site “Service-Public.fr” confirms that from July 1 2012 drivers and riders of ALL motorised vehicles will have to carry a breathalyser. This includes cars, commercial vehicles, motorbikes and scooters but excludes ‘motocylettes’ which can be pedalled.
The alcootest must be unused and, if it is not one with indefinite shelf life, the “use by” date must not have expired. Alternatively an electronic test capable of reuse can be carried – but the authorised versions of these cost upward of 100€ at present, so most bikers and drivers will opt for the throwaway, “blow-in-a-bag” type.
The single-use breathalyser kits are intended to be used by the driver to check their alcohol level before they attempt to drive – it is already compulsory for late night bars and restaurants to have such tests available for customers. If the driver or rider uses it before driving then he must have another, unused one to produce if stopped by the police.
The law applies to anyone driving on French roads, including foreign visitors and holidaymakers. From November anyone caught without a breathalyser will face an €11 on-the-spot fine – until then the police will only be issuing warnings about the new road law.
The kits can currently be bought from pharmacies but should soon be widely available in supermarkets and service stations.