As of July 1, all drivers in France are required to carry at least two single-use breathalysers in their vehicle. This includes tourists who drive in from other countries. Motorists have the option of buying disposable single-use breathalysers or a more expensive reusable instrument. Anyone caught driving without two single-use breathalysers in their car will be fined 11 Euros on the spot.
It’s part of a program to try to reduce the number of drunk driving deaths. The French government thinks the new law will encourage drivers who suspect they may be over the limit to test themselves before driving off. The French limit is 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood – the same limit that gets you a roadside suspension in Ontario. France also requires that every driver carry a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher and spare light bulbs.
France had about 4,000 fatalities on the road last year and about 30 per cent were alcohol-related. I remember having an alcohol-free lunch at a roadside bistro in Northern France a few years ago watching a group of transport truck driver dining at the next table put away a litre of red wine each before climbing into their rigs and roaring off. I wonder if a breathalyzer on board would have altered their behaviour. France has also recently increased the fines and suspensions for drinking and driving.
British newspapers have pointed out that the president of the French road safety association, which lobbied heavily for the new law, also works for one of the two government-approved companies that manufacture single-use breathalysers and which now stands to make windfall profits.