DWI – Do The French Have It Right?
With their history of wine consumption it's hard to believe the French are taking this step. After November 1, 2012 every French driver will be required to carry two single use breathalyzer units in their vehicle.
The French government hopes the law will encourage drivers who suspect they may be over the limit to test themselves and refrain from driving if they don't pass the breathalyzer test. The government is hoping this law will save around 500 lives a year. Drivers who are found not carrying a breathalyzer will be fined 11 euro or about $14 on the spot by police.
Admittedly the fine won't break the bank but the question remains will having a breathalyzer in your car deter a French driver from getting behind the wheel while intoxicated? Will this reminder actually do any good? Is this another Nancy Reagan-type 'just say no' campaign?
It seems to me if French police see you driving erratically they will pull you over and administer an official breathalyzer test and arrest you for drunk driving. With this law I wonder if the police will set up check-points on roads across France to randomly check for compliance. Can you image if this law were enacted here in America? The ACLU would freak out!!!!!!!!!!!
At first glance this law seems like it should work as intended but let's face it humans are human. First off Frenchmen are not going to cotton to being told to buy a product much less a product that will lessen their consumption of wine. Secondly a person must use the product and then abide by the test. Imagine you are a young Frenchman out on a date, you and your young mademoiselle have a few glasses of vin rouge and you're ready to bring her home. Before you turn the ignition key of course you will reach for the breathalyzer and announce that you, a fine young red-blooded Frenchman are too intoxicated to whisk her back to her place or yours. Right! The person who came up with this breathalyzer law has had one too many glasses of red wine or other substance.
Come on French lawmakers do you really think someone will rush out and buy a product to avoid a $14 fine? I think they would stand a better chance of reducing DWI's in France by mandating an alcohol/breathalyzer interlock on every car sold in France. Like anybody consuming alcohol a Frenchman will think he can beat the system. Even if the breathalyzer tells him he is impaired I'd bet the French driver or even American driver will still get behind the wheel. Haven't they heard alcohol makes you 'ten feet tall and bullet proof' as well as invisible to police?
I think most people of any nationality can tell when they have more than the legal limit but they think they can beat the odds....against getting caught by the police or killing someone.
I might have to send the French government a copy of the news story of the driver with multiple DWI citations who recently pleaded not guilty to killing seven people near Baton Rouge. I would bet large sums of money that this man could have melted a French breathalyzer and still fired up his vehicle.
It takes a conscience to deter DWI's not legislation, a $14 fine and a cute little breathalyzer.