Reader question: A friend told me that drivers in France have to have a spare pair of glasses in their car when driving and can be fined if they are found not to have these. Is this right?
That’s not correct but we understand where this confusion may have originated from. The myth behind the supposed obligation to carry a spare pair of glasses in a car was fueled by a case brought to a Paris police tribunal in 2014 which received significant media coverage.
The tribunal gave a driver who was wearing contact lenses a €135 fine for not carrying a pair of glasses as a back-up in his car, referring to a 1999 law on the matter.
The driver took their case to the court of appeal, which confirmed that there had been a decree containing this requirement but that it had been repealed in 2012. The penalty issued to him was therefore quashed as it was not justified.
Since the decree was revoked, no one driving a car while wearing contact lenses has been required to carry a spare pair of glasses, although it is recommended that they have a back-up pair with them.
It is worth noting though that a person who cannot drive without the use of glasses or contact lenses is required to have the ‘mention 01’ on their French driving licence.
People who wear glasses will need a 01.01 code displayed on their licence while contact lens wearers will have a 01.02 code.
You can find out more about additional information on French driving licences on the government information page Service-public.fr
A ‘mention 01’ driver found to be driving without a pair of glass or contact lenses is subject to a €135 fine and the withdrawal of three points from their driving licence.
A driver may be required to show a police officer they are wearing contact lenses by taking one out if asked to do so.