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French market: mandatory breathalyzer to improve road safety

01 Oct 2012

One third of fatal road accidents in France are caused by drunk driving. To improve road safety, France has implemented a law, effective July 1, 2012, mandating that every car driver and motorcycle rider (except moped) must be in possession of a chemical or an electronic breathalyzer when driving.

Anyone breaking this law will be subject to a €11 fine. Originally set to be applied as of November 1, 2012, the fine will now not be applicable until March 1, 2013 due to the difficulty to supply sufficient quantities of breathalyzers to consumers.

The objective of each driver having a breathalyzer is that they can personally evaluate if they are within the law and able to drive after drinking and therefore make the appropriate decision about driving or not. The test must be carried out at least 30 minutes after drinking alcohol which is the time necessary for it to enter the bloodstream.

The law stipulates that the breathalyzers can be; i) either certified NF, enforcing their compliance with the French standard X2 0702 (2007), or ii) simply marked by the manufacturer as compliant with this standard. While there is no requirement for certification, some companies have requested certification from the Laboratoire national de métrologie et d'essais (LNE).

Multiple-use electronic breathalyzers (around 100 Euros) are also allowed. Fourteen different models have been certified by the LNE-compliant X 20-704.