Drink Driving, DUI and DWI

Understand the laws concerning blood alcohol levels to ensure you don't go over the limit...

A driver is considered to be driving under the influence of alcohol/driving while intoxicated/ driving drunk in France if the blood/alcohol level is equal to or exceeds 0.5 grams per litre (g/l).
  • If the blood/alcohol level is between 0.5 g/l and 0.8 g/l the penalty could include a fine, loss of six points or suspension of the licence.
  • If the blood/alcohol level is in excess of 0.8g/l the penalty could include two to four years in jail, a fine, the confiscation of the vehicle, the suspension of the licence or the loss of six points
  • If the blood/alcohol exceeds the legal limit, and a presence of banned narcotics (drugs) is detected, the penalty could include two years in prison, suspension of the licence and a fine
  • If a driver causes an accident while driving drunk, the fine could be dramatically increased
  • If a driver causes serious physical harm or commits involuntary manslaughter (a victim dies as a result of the driver's actions), penalties may be a ten-year prison sentence and a fine of up to €150,000
  • A driver who refuses to take the breathalyser, may face further penalties.
Note: As of 1 July 2015, new drivers’ blood/alcohol level cannot exceed 0.2 grams per litre (g/l). A new driver is defined as one who has had their licence for three years or less. This includes drivers who have had to pass their test again after losing all the points on their licence and two years for new drivers who obtained their licence after a conduite accompagnée. If a driving infraction has been committed and points need to be removed, a person resident in France using an EU or foreign licence will have to exchange it for a French one (if possible). Drivers are obliged by law to carry a breathalyser, but there is no penalty for not doing so.