Driving rules and penalties tighten in France: key changes explained

Three new flat-rate fines introduced including one to crackdown on telephone and tablet use by drivers

French driving fines and cash in euros
Police can now fine drivers for ‘acrobatic driving’

Three new flat-rate fines have been introduced by a government decree intended to improve road safety and tighten driving rules in France. The decree includes measures aimed at fighting the use of speed trap detectors and smartphones by drivers.

The stated purpose of the decree, issued on June 10, is to “simplify the process” for police to issue driving fines for minor offences, while strengthening the rules for other offences. 

Read more: Driving in France: why are the roads more deadly than in the UK? 

These modifications made to the French highway code, La code de la route, follow the wider philosophy announced by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin for 2024 of “treating good drivers well and bad drivers harshly.”

This policy has already seen the government remove driving licence points deductions for speeding offences below 5km/h above the speed limit and introduce increased points deduction penalties for the use of alcohol and drugs (8 points, in addition to fines).

Read more: End of points penalty for ‘small speeders’ in France: mixed reaction 

What do the new rules change for drivers in France?

The June 10 decree (n° 2024-528) includes flat-rate fines for:

  • Screen use: fines can be applied if the screen is “not intended to help the driver” while driving. This includes smartphones and tablets. This category 5 infraction can result in a €1,500 fine, rising to €3,000. 

  • Speed trap detectors: fines can be applied for having one in the vehicle - even if the detector is not in use. This category 5 infraction can result in a €1,500 fine, rising to €3,000.

  • Mopeds, quad and trikes: flat-rate fines for the use of a non-roadworthy vehicles. This category 5 infraction can result in a €1,500 fine, rising to €3,000.

Fines for these driving infractions can be applied by a police officer or gendarme from June 10. Drivers can contest the fines online, here

The decree also gives police powers to issue fines for:

  • Unauthorised passage of a level crossing or bridge

  • ‘Acrobatic’ driving. This is a new driving infraction included in the decree, however there is little information on what it refers to. Car website radars-auto.com suggests it likely means deliberate stunt driving, such as motorbikes doing wheelies. The fine is €68 and can also entail a three-year driving licence suspension.

The decree also gives police authorisation to call a nurse to take blood samples for drug or alcohol blood tests.