British tourists must carry breathalysers for French motoring

Caroline Cassidy

British motorists crossing the Channel will be forced to carry two breathalyser kits in their vehicles thanks to new rules by the French government.

Drivers in France must now carry two breathalyser kits
Drivers in France must now carry two breathalyser kits

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The new law, which came into force yesterday, is part of a plan to reduce drink-driving deaths on French roads, and drivers and motorcyclists face on-the-spot fines if they fall foul of the rule.

Random checks will be carried out by French police on Brits taking their car across the Channel by ferry or via the Tunnel - those who fail to carry the two on-board kits will be fined £9.

In France the drink-driving limit is considerably lower than in the UK, allowing 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood compared to the 80mg permitted in the UK.

Two kits have been approved by the French government - a cheap bag tester costing £3, and pricier digital versions priced at more than £100.

In a bid to ensure Brits going abroad are not caught out by the new law, car accessories retailer Halfords was on hand at Dover. According to the Daily Mail, the firm reported selling one kit a minute as drivers scrambled to stay within the rules.

But critics have warned that the tests may not be entirely reliable. Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, told the Mail: "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.

"Driving requirements in France are now quite complicated and the list of things you need to take is beginning to be quite a substantial extra charge to a holiday."

As well as the new breathalyser rules, British drivers must also carry a warning triangle and fluorescent safety vest when motoring in France.

Keith Peat, from the Association of British Drivers, suggested the self-testing rules were "another money spinner for the very profitable road safety industry".

What do you think? A sensible driving law or a 'money spinner'? Leave your comments below...