Driving in France

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Ferries to France have recently become an increasing popular way of travelling across the channel! A huge number of Brits are now travelling by ferry every year thanks to the value low prices and convenience of having a holiday with your car, especially those with families or those planning taking advantage of the duty free shopping available.

One consideration many people who are planning to take a ferry to France do not take into account until the last minute is the different driving regulations when you arrive on the other side of the channel! There is more than just simply driving on the opposite side of the road and being unaware of the French driving laws may land you a hefty fine!

Currently when driving in France you must carry safety equipment such as a reflective safety vest and a warning triangle in an easily accessible part of the car, not the boot. If you put the vest in the boot you are still opening yourself up to a potential fine. These are all available on the ferry ports when you arrive in France just in case you forget!

There are several new laws which are coming into force in France over the next few months which you need to be aware of. Firstly, in January satellite navigation systems which make the driver aware of the location of speed cameras were banned in France! If you are found to have one in your car you will be fined 1500 euros, even if the sat-nav is turned off. Make sure you leave this piece of equipment at home and use a sat-nav without the speed camera detection features to find your way around.

In July all cars in France will be legally obliged to carry a breathalyser kit in order to cut the amount of drink driving in the country. You will be expected to test your breath before driving if you have consumed alcohol to ensure you are safe to drive and with the significantly lower drink drive limits in France compared to the UK this could be considered an important regulation as many British travellers are probably unaware of the much lower limits.

The drink drive limit in France is 50mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood compared to 80mg in the UK and any driver found with over the 80mg of alcohol in their blood stream could lose their licence, be given a fine or a prison sentence.

Breathalyser tests will be available at the ports when you arrive in France and cost less than £2, it is recommended you buy several kits, some to use before driving and one as a backup just in case you are checked by the police. Although the law comes into force in July there will be no fines issued until November, fines will be 11 euros to anyone who is found not to be carrying the kit.