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Breath test kits in cars from July

2 July 2012

BREATH test kits are obligatory in cars in France from July 1. Motorcyclists will also have to carry a kit although riders of scooters under 50cc are exempt.

There will be a €11 fine if you are found not to have an unused test available. It is preferable, therefore, to buy at least two, to have a spare.

The rules apply to tourists as well as residents. Foreign kits may not be eligible as kits must meet French norms. French ports and motorway service stations are expected to have them on sale.

Watch out, though, as some websites are selling the kits at ridiculously high prices.

They should cost about €1 - €1.50. Some sites sell electric versions; however be aware that ones meeting correct standards usually cost at least €100. The kits must be marked “NF” (norme française). The easiest way to buy a kit is from a pharmacy - ask for un éthylotest. However they are now also on sale in other outlets, such as some newsagents.

It is advisable to wait half an hour between drinking and testing in order to be sure the alcohol that you drank has been fully absorbed into the blood. The limit is 0.5g of alcohol per litre of blood, but how much you can drink depends on sex and weight; eg. a 70kg man can drink about 2.5 glasses of wine and a 50kg woman, a glass and a half. Using a breath test is a guide - do not drive if it is positive.

However having used one is not a defence if you are found to be over the limit by police.

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