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Row on breath kits for tractors

Farmers protest that they have no storage for breathalysers - and rarely go on the road

FARMERS have protested against the law saying all road vehicles must carry a breath test - because it also applies to them on their tractors.

The only vehicles exempt under the law are mopeds as they have no storage space, but the farmers' federation Coordination Rurale has said that tractors are equally badly served and have no clean and secure storage.

Now they have complained angrily to the agriculture and interior ministers saying the law is "absurd" as tractors are used only very occasionally on the roads. President Bernard Lannes said tractors do not go faster than 40kph and are not a major problem on the roads.

The federation has asked for an exemption to the "stupid" law, which comes into full force on November 1 when non-possession of a working breathalyser will mean a €11 fine.

It says that the law "far from curbing drink-driving problems and accidents, would only create a captive and lucrative market for breathalyser manufacturers as the equipment goes out of date and, even without drinking a drop of alcohol, needs to be renewed regularly".

Marie-Odile Morin, vice-president of the Fédération Départementale des Syndicats d'Exploitants Agricoles, has also attacked the law, saying the idea of breath tests on tractors was "ridiculous" and in summer they could face temperatures higher than their 40C maximum and be rendered useless.

Complaints of a shortage of breath tests in the shops have been echoed by UMP Haute-Savoie senator Pierre Hérisson, the president of the Automobile Club du Mont-Blanc, who said he suspected that the market was being rigged to increase prices.

He told Le Dauphine in January "a pack of two breath tests cost €0.92, but today a single breath test could cost €4.07 - a price rise of 885% in just six months".

He said that even in supermarkets the prices were rising as people started to fear not being able to get hold of a kit. He noted that a supermarket had a two-pack at €2.20 on June 20 but by the beginning of August this had risen to €3.
Photo: cheri131 - Fotolia.com

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