January 27, 2015

Drink Driving Laws Changed in France

This article talks about the NEW driving laws (from July 2015) don't forget all the existing ones mentioned here.

If you want to buy breathalysers for your trip to France, get them here.

Drink driving laws France

New Laws

The Drink Driving Law and Mobile Phone Legislation and the use of Headphones has changed in France. The legal blood alcohol level has been lowered again for new drivers, and rules about headphone usage for phones introduced.

Well without the French government constantly adding new driving laws or tinkering with existing ones I wouldn't have much of a website, would I?

Fortunately, they are keeping me busy once again, though in all seriousness fatal road accidents rose by 3.7% last year the first rise for many years according to the French Ministry.

Sadly, apart from drivers and passengers over 500 pedestrians and over 150 cyclists were killed, that figure represents an 8% increase for pedestrians so the French government have decided to act. 

The Headlines

Drink Drive Blood Alcohol Levels Lowered

Parking Law Alterations

Mobile Phone Rule Changes

More Bi-Directional Speed Cameras

More Traffic Light Cameras

Speed Limits Lowered

Headphones Banned

Tougher Fines For Eating, and applying Make-up!

Drink Drive Limit

The lowering of the alcohol limit is specifically aimed at younger inexperienced drivers, so if you are a learner or have recently passed your driving test (within the last 3 years) the level of blood alcohol permitted has been lowered from 0.5 grams per litre to 0.2 grams per litre. It remains at 0.5 grams for all other drivers though remember that is still considerably lower than the UK’s 0.8 mgs.

In truth you cannot even risk one drink if you are a new driver and for experienced drivers it has always been my advice not to have any wine with a meal if you plan to drive afterwards.

This new drink drive law is targeted at the 18-24 age groups as a shocking 25% of all young driver deaths were directly related to alcohol in France in the last 2 years.

Parking Law Changes

This is just plain common sense, but it is now illegal to park within 5 meters of a pedestrian crossing. Let’s be honest anyone who parks within 5 meters of a pedestrian crossing should have their licence taken from them as they are clearly too stupid to be in charge of a motor vehicle. 

Mobile Phone Law Changes

It is now illegal to use your mobile phone whilst driving even if you are using a headset or headphones. It has always been illegal to hand hold a mobile whilst driving in France but this latest tightening up is due to the “distraction factor” when talking on a phone even if you are not holding it.

Can you use a mobile phone while driving in France?

It is still legal however to use a fully fitted car Bluetooth kit though I suspect that this is possibly due to lobbying by the mobile phone companies as well as car manufacturers.

My view is, if it’s dangerous to talk on the phone because it distracts you so much then surely they should be banned from being used even with a Bluetooth kit. Past studies have shown that talking on the phone lowers a drivers’ concentration levels so much that many drive as badly as they would do if they were over the alcohol drink drive limit.

Most other websites that have reported or re-tweeted the news about the driving law changes have concentrated on the headphones for mobile phone rules but to be honest this is almost irrelevant you simply should not be using a phone whilst driving in any event. 

Yet More Traffic Light and Speed Cameras

Any traffic lights in France you go through are far more likely to have a camera on them in the near future. That on top of the ever-increasing number of speed detection cameras, including a substantial increase of late in the newer style "average speed" cameras, will be yet more reason to take things nice and steady as you drive through France in 2015. 

Read our in-depth report on Speed Cameras.

National Speed Limit Changes

The French equivalent of our ministry of Transport are also going to lower the national speed limit on single lane minor roads from 90km/h (which it is now) to 80km/h.

New Fine Amounts

Drink drive offences: €4,500

Driving under the influence of drugs: €4,500

Watching a screen that isn't a driver aid (Sat Nav): €1,500

Improper use of a mobile telephone: €135

Not wearing a seatbelt: €135

Using headphones: €135

Listening to loud music so you can't hear traffic: €75

Eating while driving: €75

Applying make-up, even if the vehicle is stopped at traffic lights etc.: €75

Smoking a cigarette with a minor on board: (currently under review)

Nothing to Worry About

Let’s be honest if you are driving on Holiday in France, you shouldn't be in a rush and you shouldn't be talking on your phone or driving whilst under the influence so these changes will make little difference to you.

So happy motoring!


I work very hard on this website!

Can you do me a quick favour in return for providing this free information? I'd really be grateful if you told Twitter or Facebook that you appreciate my efforts!

Follow us on: Twitter

Like us on: Facebook

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram