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France Makes Drivers Carry Breathalyzers

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On: Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 10:12AM | By: Chris Weiss


France Makes Drivers Carry Breathalyzers

In an interesting move, France has passed a law that requires every vehicle in the country to carry its own breathalyzer. Not only will drivers suspected of drunk driving have to take the test, they'll have to supply it.

Outside of shifting some of the cost of breathalyzer equipment from state to citizen, the law doesn't really appear to do a whole lot. If it required a breathalyzer-based ignition system, it might actually do something to cut down on drunk driving. But since it basically just means throwing a breathalyzer in the glove compartment, it really doesn't seem to have much juice.

The logic of the law, as explained by the BBC, is that drivers will use the breathalyzer to test themselves before driving off. That seems laughably optimistic. If the driver was that concerned with drinking and driving, he probably wouldn't be sitting in the driver's seat. The idea that someone is going to use the test and then refrain from driving should he register over the legal limit seems a little absurd.

In the land of fine cuisine and wine, drunk driving is cited as the number one cause of accidents, according to the BBC. France believes the new law can save 500 lives per year.

While the law went into effect at the beginning of the month, drivers have a grace period until November to begin carrying breathalyzers. They have their choice of inexpensive, single-use chemical kits or electronic breathalyzer devices. After November, those that are caught without a breathalyzer will be fined 11 euros.

Besides its questionable usefulness, the law is being criticized on the grounds that it is basically just a sweetheart deal for the companies that manufacture breathalyzers. With only two such companies in France, they stand to benefit greatly from the law. An executive of one of the companies was a major force behind getting the law passed.




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