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Ethylotest rethink as fines delayed

Minister says not enough breath test kits are available but also demands new evaluation of law's usefulness

DRIVERS have been given an extra four months' grace over the imposition of €11 fines for not carrying breath tests - and the law may even be scrapped.

A shortage of tests across the country has prompted the interior ministry to delay the start of the fines until March 1 and Interior Minister Manuel Valls said he wanted to use this interval to evaluate the usefulness of the law.

Alcohol is implicated in one in three fatal road accidents and is involved in the deaths of three people each day.

The law says that all road-users - even tourists - must carry an éthylotest to help them check that they are fit to drive. Only cyclomoteurs - two-wheelers of under 50cc - are exempt.

Introduced by then interior minister Claude Guéant, it came into force on July 1 but its full effects were delayed until November 1 to allow manufacturers to supply enough kits.

However, only two manufacturers make kits to the Norme Française demanded and French company Contralco and South African Red Line have not been able to supply enough products.

When MPs passed the law kits cost only around €1-€2 but now the shortage of supply has seen prices hit €5 in some shops.

Valls said that before March 1 he wanted to have a new look at the law along with road users' groups and victims' groups. The Ligue Contre la Violence Routière has already attacked it as just a "little cosmetic measure".

The legal limit for driving in France is 0.5gram of alcohol per litre of blood. A driving ban is not automatic for drivers who go over this limit - they risk losing six points off the 12 points on their licence and a €135 fine.

Anyone driving with more than 0.8g/l must go to court and risks losing six points, a three-year driving ban, a €4,500 fine and two years' jail.
Photo: Sébastien - Fotolia.com

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