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What you need to know if driving in France this summer

Most trips to Europe by road involve some driving in France, and it’s easy to get confused about the rules for drivers in France and how they might differ from those at home.

AA Ireland has highlighted some of the key rules and regulations that Irish drivers planning on driving in France this summer need to know.

In July 2012 the French announced that drivers must carry a breathalyser or, from November 2012, be fined €11. You still have to carry the breathalyser but the fine has been postponed twice and was shelved in January 2013. The breathalyser must be unused and show the French certification mark NF. It has to be in date too. Single-use breathalysers normally only last 12 months so check yours if you bought it for a trip last year and didn’t use it.

High visibility vest(s)
A high visibility vest (one per passenger) must be carried inside the passenger compartment of your vehicle in case of a car breakdown. If you breakdown on the motorway or need to repair a puncture, make sure you wear it as soon as you step out of the vehicle or you could risk a hefty fine.

Warning triangle
Along with a high-vis vest for all of the car’s occupants, a warning triangle is a legal requirement in France. Most modern cars now come with one fitted as standard, but don’t rely upon the manufacturer giving you one. Always check if there’s one present in your car before you leave – it is an excellent way of warning traffic of your stranded vehicle ahead should you experience difficulty which will go along way to keeping you safe.

Drinking and driving
The French police can carry out random breath tests. The legal limit is 49 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, or 19 milligrams for bus/coach drivers and new drivers with less than three years’ experience.

Penalties include a fine, imprisonment and/or confiscation of your driving
licence and/or your vehicle. Saliva drug tests are also used with penalties for drug-driving similar to drink driving.

A full in depth list from AA Ireland can be viewed here.