Vehicles travelling in France must carry breathalysers

Effective later this spring, all motorists in France will be required to have the disposable breathalyser kit in their car for use for a self-check that they are not driving over the limit after drinking alcohol.

Violators of the new regulation without kits in their vehicles will face fines.

France is the first country in the world to enforce the extreme measure.

It’s part of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to tackle the country’s terrible drunk-driving record. Every year 4,000 people lose their lives on French roads and a third of these are alcohol related, according to the government’s Sécurité Routière department.

France has already shrunk the legal blood-alcohol content limit to 0.05 – the same as that of British Columbia and Ontario. But the legal limit remains high compared with other European countries, such as Sweden and Norway, where the limit is 0.02.

The rationale behind the breathalysers law is likely to be to educate French drivers on just how little alchohol it takes to pass the legal limit. It is not possible to just count drinks, there are many factors such as body weight, food intake and the person’s ability to digest alcohol that can change the amount of alcohol a person can consume before being over ‘the limit’.

However critics have said there is nothing in the French law requires drivers to actually use the device.