The introduction of alcohol ignition interlock devices is not new. Since 1 January 2010, coaches carrying children must be equipped with this device. The legislation has extended this to all coaches used for public transport, with application from 1 September 2015. As published on 16 March 2017 in Le Figaro, a French renowned newspaper, this device has been in a test phase in three departments since 1 December last year for private individuals. It should also be noted that some company car fleets are equipped with this type of device.
A system in a test phase:
Like many public policies, test phases are being applied to one or more departments in order to assess the results with a view to applying the system throughout France. The departments concerned by the introduction of alcohol ignition interlock devices are Drôme, Nord and Marne.
Drivers sanctioned following a positive alcohol test will be able to keep their driving licence by agreeing to the installation of an alcohol ignition interlock device (EAD) on their vehicle. In this case, as reported in the article, the prefecture will issue a temporary licence mentioning the obligation of an EAD on the vehicle.
Operation of an AIS
The principle of operation of an alcohol ignition interlock device is very simple. It consists of a breathalyser (electronic breathalyser) connected to the vehicle's starter motor. Each time the driver starts the car, he must blow into the breathalyser. If the result is negative (zero or below the legal blood alcohol level) the car can be started normally within five minutes of the measurement. If the blood alcohol level is higher than the norm, a second test is available. If this is also positive, the car cannot be started for 30 minutes.
The tolerated alcohol limits are set by Article L234 of the Highway Code. They must not exceed 0.2 grams per litre (i.e. 0.1 mg/L of exhaled air) for public transport vehicles and 0.5 grams per litre (i.e. 0.25 mg/L of exhaled air) for other vehicles (company vehicles, private individuals, etc.). Alcohol ignition interlock devices are electronic measuring devices. As such, they require regular calibration for ethanol (an alcohol present in all alcoholic drinks).