If you’re planning a road trip abroad this summer, chances are that you’ll drive to Dover, hop on a ferry (or the Eurotunnel if your bonus cheque has come in) and roll off the other side at Calais, maybe Dunkerque.
While the Autoroutes in France are smooth, the driving experience certainly isn’t. On top of notes-worth of euros for Péage payments, you also need with you high-visibility vests (which must be kept inside the cabin, not the boot), a warning triangle, headlamp converters, a valid, full UK driving licence, your motor insurance certificate and a GB sticker (unless your car has 'Euro-plates'). Oh, and from November you must also carry a breathalyser. Make that two, actually…
The new French law – which took effect at the beginning of this month for French citizens – ‘will reduce the number of drink-driving deaths on its roads by 500 each year’, so says the French government. Even if that number of lives is saved, France will still top the European drink-driving road deaths charts; in 2010, no less than 1230 deaths were attributed to drink driving, compared with 342 in Germany, 265 in Spain and 250 in the UK; yes, that surprised me, too.
If (from November thanks to four months' grace) one of us is stopped and caught without our anti-drink-drive weapon, we will be fined £9.
If, however, you’re caught drink driving in France – anything between 50mg and 80mg of booze in the blood – you will lose six points and get hit with a €135 fine. Above that threshold and you can lose you’re licence altogether and even be sent to prison.
So drivers, do yourselves a favour and spend a couple of quid on a couple of cheap breathalyser kits to appease the French rozzers, and then you can always check for yourself whether you've had too much French plonk.
Any further advice to throw into the pot?