Information for road users in France

Traffic rules aim to limit the risk of accidents, particularly fatal ones.
Everyone is required to comply, whether or not they are usually resident in France.

Driving licence

EuropeOutside Europe
The bearers of driving licences issued by Member States of the EU or of the European Economic Area (EEA) may use their licences in France for an unlimited period.

For further information: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/N19126

Cross-border exchange of traffic offence information

France exchanges information on traffic offences with Ireland.

Tickets may be issued and sent directly to the domicile of offenders resident in Ireland for offences committed in France.
If you come to France for a short visit (such as holidays), you can drive using your foreign licence. It must be valid and either written in French or accompanied by an official translation into French or an international licence.

If you reside in France, you may use your foreign licence for one year, under certain conditions. Beyond one year, you must exchange your foreign licence for a French licence.

For further information: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/N19126

Virtual penalty points

France plans to endorse the driving licences of bearers of foreign licences driving in France (virtual driving licence points system).

Endorsements will be carried out if the driver commits an offence in France.

If the maximum number of penalty points are taken (down to zero points), the driver will be prohibited from driving in French territory for one year. If this prohibition is not respected, offenders risk a prison sentence of two years and a fine of €4,500, as well as immediate immobilization of the vehicle.

Speed limits

In France, the maximum authorized speed is:
- 50km/h in urban areas;

- 80km/h outside urban areas on two-way roads with no central reservation (some sections of some roads may be limited to 90km/h);

- 110km/h on double carriageways with a central reservation (100km/h in wet weather);

- 130km/h on motorways (110km/h in wet weather).

If these limits are not respected, drivers will be issued tickets and offence notices will be sent to those who commit offences.

Use of mobile telephones

Driving while holding a telephone or wearing audio devices such as headphones and earpieces is forbidden, and offenders risk:
• a flat-rate fine of €135;
• 3-point endorsement of their driving licence.
Moreover, the use of a mobile telephone held in the driver’s hand in combination with another driving offence results in immediate suspension of your driving licence. If no other driver, with a valid driving licence, can drive the vehicle, then it will be immobilized.

Consumption of alcohol and drugs

The authorized amount of alcohol in the bloodstream is 0.5g/litre. It is reduced to 0.2g/litre for public transport drivers, bearers of probationary licences and learner drivers.

Driving, or accompanying a learner driver, is prohibited after using substances or plants classed as drugs, whatever the quantity absorbed.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can result in immediate suspension of your driving licence. If no other driver, with a valid driving licence, can drive the vehicle, then it will be immobilized.

If the offence is observed at the roadside and the vehicle is immobilized, the latter will be impounded for seven days and only a person with a driving licence and insurance may collect it.

Safety devices

It is compulsory to wear a seatbelt in all vehicles, both at the front and at the back. Children must be properly seated and attached using special restraint devices.

It is compulsory for drivers and passengers of motorized two-wheel vehicles to wear helmets and gloves.

A high-visibility jacket and a warning triangle (in addition to hazard lights) must be present in all vehicles.

Optional

A Breathalyser is NOT compulsory

French law currently states that a driver should have a Breathalyzer in his/her car. However, no fine will be incurred if the driver is stopped by the police. For peace of mind – a Breathalyzer (alcootest) can be bought in any pharmacy or supermarket for less than €5.

Global Positioning System

GPS devices may be used but take note the use of all electronic devices: GPS, mobile phones, laptops, tablets etc. that enable the driver to access radar detection in the locality is strictly prohibited and failure to abide by this law will result in a heavy fine, a court appearance and possible confiscation of the device and the vehicle.

Motorcyclists

- Must wear a full face crash helmet at all times, which complies with CE/NF standards

Cyclists

- Cyclists must always wear a helmet, which complies with CE/NF standards.
- Take note High visibility jackets must be worn at night.

Fines

In 2015, more that 9 000 Irish citizens got fined for road traffic offence in France.

For your own safety, please drive carefully!

For more information about driving in France you can download the following document (PDF, 2,8 Mo):

PDF - 2.8 Mb
(PDF - 2.8 Mb)

- Take note It is not within the remit of the Embassy of France to intervene in the process if fines (either parking or speeding) that are issued to a driver.
To contact the Fines authority in France, please check this website:
https://www.amendes.gouv.fr/portail/index.jsp?lang=en

Published on 23/08/2018

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