FRANCE - Breathalysers
In July 2012 the French announced that drivers must carry a breathalyser or, from November 2012, be fined €11. Since April 2013, carrying a breathalysers with you in the car has been obligatory in France... by law - at least in theory. BUT this is a wonderful law that you are free to observe or not observe, as there is no penalty for drivers caught without a breathalyser in their car.
Single-use certified breathalyzers are now available in many supermarkets, chemists and garages throughout France, at a cost of about 1 €uro each. So the cost is minimal.
Contrary to information posted on some sites, the new law (Decree no 2012-284) does not oblige drivers to self-test after having a drink. But those who plan to self-test to be on the safe side should have at least two breathalyzers in the car, if not more.
SIMPLE SOLUTION: Don't drink and drive !
FRANCE - Sat nav and speed camera alerts
- It’s long been the case that you’re not allowed to carry or use a speed camera detector in France.
- You could be fined up to €1,500 or even have your vehicle taken away.
- The law was extended to cover satnav and any other GPS-based system in 2012.
- If your satnav can show fixed speed cameras, then you’ll have to disable alerts before you drive in France.
- You may need to contact the satnav manufacturer for a software or database update to remove French camera data.
EUROPE - Low emission zones
Air quality in urban areas is an important issue and more than 200 cities in 10 countries across Europe are now operating Low Emission Zones where the most polluting vehicles are either banned or charged an access fee. If you're planning a road trip you’ll want to know where these LEZ are, what types of vehicle they affect, what emissions standards are required, and whether registration is required or not.
Most of the LEZ only affect vans and lorries but some, like those in France, Germany and Italy, affect cars too.
Low Emission Zones, also known as environment zones have many different names:
- Umweltzonen (Germany)
- Milieuzones (Netherlands)
- Lavutslippssone (Norway)
- Miljozone (Denmark)
- Miljözon (Sweden)
For the very latest on low emission zones, in English and for every European country, visit Urban Access Regulations in Europe.
Other driving restrictions
As well as LEZ areas, there are other access restrictions in European towns and cities.
Pollution isn't the only issue caused by heavy traffic – other restrictions are in place to control noise or protect historic buildings.
FRANCE - Order your CRIT'Air clean air sticker early if you expect to be driving in Paris
Paris, Lyon and Grenoble have recently been added to the growing number of low emissions zones.
If you plan to drive within the restricted area in one of these cities you'll have to display a Vignette (sticker) in your windscreen.
Without the sticker you could be fined but we're hearing reports that the French authorities are struggling to cope with demand for Vignettes resulting in significant delay beyond the estimated 30-day delivery time.
EUROPE - Winter Driving (October/November to March/April)
To meet the legal requirements of some countries over the winter months you may need a vehicle with special tyres and/or snow chains. Plus, on some roads is it a legal requirement to at least CARRY chains over the winter months. Click here for more information.
General Notes: 2010 European guidelines require all passenger cars and motorbikes including vehicles from foreign countries to be fitted with winter tyres or all season tyres on all axles when conditions are wintry. Winter tyres (or 'all season' tyres) should bear the mark M+S* or the snowflake symbol on the side wall.
Snow chains must be fitted on at least two drive wheels. In any country Snow chains may only be used where there's sufficient snow covering to avoid any possibility of damage to the road surface. A fine may be imposed if damage is caused.
Winter tyres, marked M+S* (with or without spikes/studs), with a tread depth of at least 3mm are compulsory from 1 December until 31 March for Swedish registered vehicles and trailers and also for foreign registered vehicles.
Between 15 October and 15 April or at other times if conditions dictate. Provinces can introduce their own legislation making the use of winter tyres and snow chains compulsory.