Breathalyzer France – mandatory yes or no?

Alkoholtester Frankreich und die Promilligrenze

Anyone who drives to France in their own vehicle has probably heard that in France you have to carry a breathalyzer in your car . But you can find out exactly what this  French law is all about and what you should pay attention to when it comes to alcohol on French roads here. 

People who regularly travel to France, whether for work or for leisure, are aware of the current situation with alcohol testing . The basic rule is that a breathalyzer must be carried in the vehicle . 

Is it mandatory to have a breathalyzer in your car in France?

Taking a breathalyzer test is considered a legal requirement; every vehicle must carry a device for measuring breath alcohol . Most people keep the test in the glove compartment, but there are generally no regulations regarding storage itself.

Although it is a law that has been in effect since July 2012 , drivers without a breathalyzer test do not face any fines. The law still exists, but punishment has been suspended and those affected do not have to face any legal consequences or penalties. However, it is important that the measuring device meets certain requirements , especially the French standard. What this means is that the test is NF-certified , which is easy to recognize by the NF mark, the abbreviation stands for ‘ Norm Française ‘.

Alcohol test France, no obligation to carry

The background to this decision is to increase safety in French road traffic . Drivers should adhere to certain alcohol limits and, if in doubt, leave the car parked. The law is intended to reduce accidents and the number of road deaths.

The obligation to carry breathalyzers remains

Even if there is no penalty for not carrying one , the law remains in effect; in principle, carrying a breathalyzer is mandatory. The breathalyzer in the car allows the driver to quickly test his or her ability to drive at any time . The alcohol tests are administered by the user themselves; the balloon is inflated through the mouthpiece on the bag. The air is then slowly let out and you can finally see how your condition is through the substance in the bag. The driver simply has to blow through the tube and he will receive his result within a few seconds via discoloration . If the crystals in the tube remain yellow, you can drive. If they turn green, you should leave the car parked because the permitted value has been exceeded .

Buy a breathalyzer in France or Germany

The devices with which you can test your own alcohol level can be bought in France , where you should pay attention to the necessary NF standard, because only these tests are calibrated. The tests are available in France at gas stations, pharmacies and supermarkets. Vacationers can decide whether to use a disposable breathalyzer for up to around 10 euros or choose digital devices that can also be taken with them in the vehicle. However, digital tests cost up to 100 euros, depending on the model.

The expiry date is also important; the disposable test devices must have a shelf life of at least one year. A valid expiry date can be found on the test itself, near the NF symbol. In Germany you can purchase these test devices online, but you are not required to take them with you on public transport in Germany. In France, however, there are legal requirements to have a breathalyzer in the vehicle.

Breathalyzer France and the alcohol limit

Driving after drinking alcohol

In France, such tests are often anchored to the immobilizer , so the car can no longer be moved after drinking alcohol. This procedure is used for convicted drink drivers , the aim is to prevent drunk driving , the alcohol test checks the alcohol content in the breath through a tube. In France, traffic controls also take place in parking lots or at rest stops on motorways. If you are unsure and want to avoid this, you can check yourself with a disposable test to be sure.

Regulation in Germany

In general, it is not advisable to drive after drinking alcohol , as the risk of accidents increases rapidly as the blood alcohol level rises. There is a strict ban on alcohol when driving for novice drivers and drivers up to the age of 21. In Germany, the alcohol limit of 0.5 applies to all other drivers; if this value is exceeded, the car must stop.

Regulation in France

In France, drink drivers have to expect severe fines , between 0.5 and 0.8 per mille, which is between 90 and 750 euros, alcohol consumption above this costs up to 4,500 euros and can also result in a prison sentence . The alcohol limit for novice drivers and bus drivers is 0.2 per mille.

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