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Breathalyzers set to become fixtures of French parties
February 27, 2012 12:36 PM   Subscribe

France has passed a law that all cars must carry a road safety kit that includes a breathalyzer, ..

.. as well as a first aid kit, fire extinguisher and and spare bulbs for headlights and blinkers.
posted by jeffburdges (78 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good idea.
posted by pyrex at 12:41 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Never, ever buy a breathalyzer.

It is not a tool.

IT IS A CHALLENGE.
posted by Hollywood Upstairs Medical College at 12:41 PM on February 27, 2012 [38 favorites]


This sounds like a great idea, from a solid analysis. I would strongly recommend that everyone actually read the article if only for the awesome graphs.
posted by Blasdelb at 12:42 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a great idea. If you read the article the intent is that people use it in order to avoid the huge penalties of actually getting pulled over while drunk.

Meanwhile, if you don't have it, the fine is $14.
posted by vacapinta at 12:43 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Car kit: good idea.

Breathalyzer?
Yeah, like carrying it is the same as using it.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:46 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


And before anyone complains about imposing breathalyzer ownership on people who don't drink, they permit a $2 single use disposable breathalyzer.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:54 PM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is a great idea.
posted by josher71 at 12:55 PM on February 27, 2012


Way to bow down to Big Breathalyzer, France.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:00 PM on February 27, 2012 [20 favorites]


I don't know if laws in France are created the same way as they are in the US, but I do wonder how much money was donated by the breathalyzer manufacturing industry.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:00 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, echoing BlueHorse. It's a good idea, but unless a bad blow prevents engine ignition, it's inclusion in the car kit does little more than a dashboard deity.
posted by obscurator at 1:01 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Faint of Butt about $80
posted by 13twelve at 1:02 PM on February 27, 2012


It's a good idea, but unless a bad blow prevents engine ignition, it's inclusion in the car kit does little more than a dashboard deity.

Statistics will of course show whether your hypothesis holds water (or indeed vin rouge).
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:02 PM on February 27, 2012


It sounds like the law is worded so that when you use one of these consumable items you are now in violation of the letter of the law. (this is pointed out specifically for the breath tester but presumably is the case for the replacement turn signal bulbs as well) That seems a bit stupid, though I can see the contrary position (always carry a used tester and two blown turn signals in the glovebox and you've totally given the french authorities the finger, unless they plug this flaw in the law)
posted by jepler at 1:05 PM on February 27, 2012


This is how you use the $2 disposable breathalyzer to save lives:

Before breathalyzer:
Drunk friend: I am OK to drive, trust me.
You: No you are not, you are slurring your speech and weaving all over the place.
Friend: I promise you, I am OK, trust me.
....
Either you let your friend drive, or have a long, horrible, draining, trust damaging argument.

With breathalyzer:
Drunk friend: I am OK to drive.
You: I'll let you drive if you blow under the legal limit.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 1:06 PM on February 27, 2012 [33 favorites]


Stiff penalties for DWIs only work as deterrence if people are capable of rationally assessing the likelihood of being caught. Knowing your BAC is a huge part of making that determination, and requiring people to have the tools to measure their BAC is a great idea.

To those saying that having the breathalyzer in the car isn't the same as making them use it — I think you're missing the point, which is that rational self-interest will motivate people to use them.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 1:08 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


My complaint was going to be that this was unfair to poor drivers, but if a $2 disposable fulfills the law's requirements, I can't be too upset. That said, I can't imagine it will actually do much to prevent drunk driving.
posted by maryr at 1:10 PM on February 27, 2012


Count me as someone who doesn't really care if breathalyzer companies got a sweetheart deal out of this.
posted by josher71 at 1:10 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


My complaint was going to be that this was unfair to poor drivers, but if a $2 disposable fulfills the law's requirements, I can't be too upset. That said, I can't imagine it will actually do much to prevent drunk driving.

I can't imagine that that $2 disposable is particularly accurate, especially if you leave it in the trunk of your car.

That said, it's more accurate than nothing.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:13 PM on February 27, 2012


"Pierre. Hey, Pierre. Come here and blow into this thing for me. Don't ask why. Just do it for your old pal, Jacques, huh?."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:15 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Either you let your friend drive, or have a long, horrible, draining, trust damaging argument.

If you let them drive, you're no friend.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:15 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


And a vacuum sealed wedge of brie and a small bottle of something festive like a Beaujolais.
posted by spicynuts at 1:16 PM on February 27, 2012 [17 favorites]


I think this is a good idea in that I don't think people can currently gauge how drunk/impaired they "feel" against what is the legal limit. If they realize that they are blowing over the limit even when they don't feel "drunk," maybe they will hesitate before getting behind the wheel. Maybe? I hope?

That being said, I first read this as "all cats must carry a road safety kit."
posted by queensissy at 1:16 PM on February 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


maryr: “My complaint was going to be that this was unfair to poor drivers, but if a $2 disposable fulfills the law's requirements, I can't be too upset. That said, I can't imagine it will actually do much to prevent drunk driving.”

In a country where gas costs about $7.80 per gallon, I imagine the phrase "poor drivers" is not one that gets used very often.
posted by koeselitz at 1:19 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


That being said, I first read this as "all cats must carry a road safety kit."

Not all cats, just Toonces.
posted by axiom at 1:21 PM on February 27, 2012 [20 favorites]


Yeah, I can't really believe people don't understand how this works. The breathalyzer is there so people will be able to tell if they are over/under the limit.

It's not a requirement that the thing be connected to the car.
posted by delmoi at 1:23 PM on February 27, 2012


It sounds like the law is worded so that when you use one of these consumable items you are now in violation of the letter of the law.

Well yeah then you carry two 2 dollar single-use thingies. Or the turn signal bulbs at a very similar cost. Or presumably buy them in a kit at the service station.
posted by Authorized User at 1:23 PM on February 27, 2012


So, cyclists can run reds and Paris, Paris also has an incredible public transportation system and a positive drinking culture, *and* French cars need breathalyzers?

Paris = BIKE PARADISE.


I'm for this road safety kit.
posted by alex_skazat at 1:27 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


In a country where gas costs about $7.80 per gallon, I imagine the phrase "poor drivers" is not one that gets used very often.

If it's the only way you have of getting to your place of employment, I'd imagine that, like the US, there are plenty of poor drivers no matter what the cost of gas.

They just aren't taking the gorram Autoroute to get there because if my friend in Geneva can be believed, Christ, French highways are expensive.
posted by maryr at 1:27 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


You first heard about this yesterday on Top Gear, right?
posted by gyc at 1:30 PM on February 27, 2012


Either you let your friend drive, or have a long, horrible, draining, trust damaging argument.

If it means saving my asshole friends life. Then friendship be damned.
Or better yet, be smart about your drinking, it's not too hard to plan shit out: taxi, crash at a friend's house, or not get that drunk to begin with, but different strokes....
posted by Fizz at 1:37 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I mean. Obviously there are ways to avoid driving while drunk, Fizz, but just as obviously people are still doing so with great regularity, so.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 1:40 PM on February 27, 2012


Wow. Just think if one of the Dem. US governors proposed this. Or the Obama administration. The fun would fly in the tea party flophouse, I would reckon.
posted by Danf at 1:42 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm in favor of this law. I would love it if dispensers for $2 disposable breathalyzer kits replaced cigarette machines in bars here, for all the same reasons. We could do this in a tea-party approved way: Insurance companies or taxing authorities could give them a break on insurance if they provided them to customers.

But my first thoughts were of a different nature. "Now if they also require a 3-pack of condoms and a bottle opener, we'll be in business."
posted by Mad_Carew at 1:44 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think this is better than forcing (mostly low-income) DUI convicts to buy expensive breathalyzer systems that lock down their cars as is done in my state.
posted by michaelh at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Holy shit, I'm only blowing .02; I need a drink, and fast!"

Seriously though. I approve of this plan. It's not even terribly coercive, they're just trying to encourage a cultural shift. Very cleverly implemented.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2012


Yeah, like carrying it is the same as using it.

Charlton Heston, is that you?
posted by dubold at 1:52 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: unless a bad blow prevents engine ignition.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:53 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


And here I'd gotten the impression from watching the BBC that the high court in Paris had said "it's up to Scotland to decide."
posted by koeselitz at 1:59 PM on February 27, 2012


Ew! French breathalyzing is gross! They use their tongues!
posted by Sys Rq at 2:01 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I mean. Obviously there are ways to avoid driving while drunk, Fizz, but just as obviously people are still doing so with great regularity, so.

You're right. I guess I just live under different circumstances. Drinking has never really been a big deal to me. I grew out of that phase in university and even then I always planned it out ahead of time so as to not cause any harm towards me or anyone around me.
posted by Fizz at 2:03 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


And let the Princess Diana jokes start in 3...2...1.
posted by stormpooper at 2:05 PM on February 27, 2012


Dark Messiah: "If you let them drive, you're no friend."

You don't need to lecture people who are already on your side man. Hard line attitudes like that don't save lives, they're actually counter-productive to your goals (c.f. MADD). I don't see why having another way to convince someone they shouldn't be driving is bad. Sometimes the choice isn't between letting someone drive and not letting them drive. Sometimes it's between pissing them off and pissing them off so much that they'll never listen to you again--and either way they get into the car.

As an aside, I love Top Gear but god damn it they're a bunch of fucking assholes. Mostly Clarkson.
posted by danny the boy at 2:05 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


You love Top Gear because they're a bunch of fucking assholes.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:10 PM on February 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


The one time in my life that I probably drove drunk I count I would have had I had a breathalyzer on me. I swear this story is true. It is also 20 years old, so I admit to having been a dumbass asshole two decades ago.

I moved back to a town I hadn't been in for a few years. Called up a friend I hadn't see in that time for a few beers. He bought a pitcher, so I reciprocated. As we were getting ready to call it a night another friend stopped by (he was there on his own). So he bought a pitcher and again I reciprocated and as far as I know so did the original friend.

We closed the place. I sat in my car sobering up. An hour goes by and I am feeling drunker, not less, I sit for another hour and am feeling a bit better, but it's 1:45 at this point. I start thinking, "If I wait much longer I'll be driving home with the drunks!"

15 minutes later I am pulled over by the cops, he asks for my ID. I hand him my Old Chicago "World Tour of Beers" card. He hands it back. I give him my real ID. He asks if I know why I was pulled over. I told him I didn't. I'd stayed between the lines and I had my cruise set, so I was good there. He told me a failed to dim my lights. He makes me demonstrate I know how to do this and sends me on my way.

I drove two more blocks and parked in a friend's driveway and slept in the car until 7. Sheer police incompetence is the only reason I didn't get a a DUI. Either that or I had waited long enough, but I doubt it. If i'd had something I could have tested with I would have and wouldn't have driven.

As it was I considered this a wake up call and won't get behind the wheel if I've even had two drinks.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:16 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really don't. I like the films, I like the antics, I like their dynamic, but I would love to never hear about the 'nanny state', or the global warming denials, or the mocking of things that the rest of the civilized world accepted 20 years ago. I don't know why Tesla thought it was a good idea to lend them one of their cars, we all saw that coming from a mile away.

It's possible to like cars without having your head shoved right up your ass about reality.
posted by danny the boy at 2:16 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


The problem is that the antics and dynamic are based on a foundation of assholery. You have every right not to like it when they're assholes about science and politics, but if they weren't assholes at all it wouldn't be Top Gear.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:21 PM on February 27, 2012


Those arguing having a breathalyzer doesn't make you more likely to use it, and thus not drive drunk, are (statistically) the same ones arguing having a gun doesn't make you more likely to use it to shoot somebody. (credit: dubold)

Try proof by contradiction. Are you really prepared to argue that not having a gun makes you more likely to shoot somebody with it?

...brought to you by an anti-MADD guy who drinks, and drives, and owns guns, but tries to keep the overlap of any of them to a minimum.
posted by TomStampy at 2:22 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


This isn't preventative, it's just adding further liability to drunk drivers, because they had the opportunity to self-diagnose to an accurate degree.

Other kit parts seem like a decent idea though
posted by MangyCarface at 2:23 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile in Wisconsin, they seize vehicles for minor possession of drugs, but your 10th dui is still considered "funny".

I say, seize multiple dui vehicles, donate them to the local school for drivers ed that includes drunk driving education, and if a cop gets caught, they are never a cop again. Yep, i've seen too many people die or get seriously injured from drunks driving, so really, not much sympathy here.
posted by usagizero at 2:31 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


god damn it they're a bunch of fucking assholes. Mostly Clarkson.

Obligatory link to Stewart Lee disputing this hypothesis.
posted by howfar at 2:37 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Having a breathalyzer in the car is ineffective. Having it in your pocket before you go to get into your car might be effective.

Also, in many areas, you can be charged with something like "attempted drunk driving" if the cops believe that you have intention to drive drunk (i.e., you are inebriated-ly unlocking your car and getting behind the wheel). I don't know if France is such a country, but it would certainly make it pointless to have the breathalyzer in the car.

Now, having those built-in breathalyzers that the courts force upon chronic drunk drivers, where your car won't start if you blow over the limit, that would be effective. I'm not sure whether or not that is too great an infringement upon individual liberty, though.
posted by asnider at 2:41 PM on February 27, 2012


It sounds like the law is worded so that when you use one of these consumable items you are now in violation of the letter of the law.
If you read the article, it says that they'll be selling the single-use ones in two-packs, for this very reason.

I guess I have a hard time seeing why this wouldn't be a good idea. It's not very onerous, it can't hurt anyone, and it might very well help.
posted by craichead at 2:51 PM on February 27, 2012


I like this idea a lot. I don't think that it's at all unreasonable to expect people to be able to self-regulate, especially when they're presented with cold hard data. Drunk people aren't mindless zombies....they're just not very self-aware.

If nothing else, it would be a very valuable confidence check for folks like me who are terrified of accidentally driving drunk. I'm a lightweight, and my tolerance fluctuates all over the place, given that I sometimes go for very long spells without touching a drop of alcohol. Even after several hours have passed, it can be difficult for me to tell whether or not I'm in acceptable condition to drive.

Two years ago, I got in my car about 4 hours after having the last of my first few drinks in about 5 months. About halfway out of the parking garage, I flew over a speedbump with enough speed that my car bottomed out on the way down. Shit. It's been 4 hours, and I'm still drunk. I pulled my car back into a parking space, and slept on my (bewildered) friend's couch.

I'm terrified to think of what might have happened if I'd actually gone out and drove home that night. Even having only consumed a very modest amount of alcohol, for whatever reason, I wasn't metabolizing the stuff at anything close to the normal rate.

These days, I don't drive to any place where I'll be drinking. That incident taught me that my tolerance wildly fluctuates, and that I'm an exceptionally poor judge of my own level of intoxication. I fully support having a little gizmo handy that can use SCIENCE to tell me "Don't even think about driving."

I'm willing to wager a guess that most DUIs don't happen to habitual alcoholics, or to people who seem drunk when they get in their car. Telling your friends not to drive requires a subjective judgement, and lots of people can take offense to this. Having a scientific/numeric "Drive/Don't Drive" indicator handy could definitely cut down on the number of DUI incidents.

asnider: " I don't know if France is such a country, but it would certainly make it pointless to have the breathalyzer in the car."

That's a really bad straw man argument. In such a situation, the law would obviously need to be changed, or officers would need to change their enforcement tactic to wait for the subject to put their car into gear before apprehending them.
posted by schmod at 2:55 PM on February 27, 2012




Breathalyzer?
Yeah, like carrying it is the same as using it.


I am of the opinion that anything can be incentivized by fees. If even 10% of drivers breathalyze themselves just because they happen to have one in their car, because they were too afraid of racking up a $15 fee from a routine stop, then we can call this measure a success.
posted by deathpanels at 3:06 PM on February 27, 2012


I'd rank this law amongst the most elegant least invasive approaches to addressing the drunk driving problem. I'm surprised nobody has observed that requiring a breathalyzer and spare bulbs is technically less onerous than requiring seat belts, a spare tire, or even working turn signals.

I consider this a lovely example of an epidemiological approach more common in Europe soundly trumping a more moralistic approach common in America, well that why I posted it.

Also, there is really no question that, if all cars contain breathalyzers, then more people will test themselves before driving, well duh! You could argue that anyone who'd drive drunk will drive drunk anyways, but the statistics will answer that question within a couple years.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:11 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


If nothing else, it would be a very valuable confidence check for folks like me who are terrified of accidentally driving drunk.
Yeah, me too. I'm actually sort of tempted to get a $2 breathalyzer, because I spend a lot of time sitting around waiting to drive home, way past the point when I've got to be totally sober. I'm really paranoid, and it'd be nice to be able to know for sure that I was safe to drive.
posted by craichead at 3:13 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a fairly new French resident I find the choice of topics about which there is legislation a little strange. On the one hand towns and villages brim over with joyous events where people goad bulls and launch hand-held fireworks in the street with none of the interference from lawyers and health and safety people that would spoil the this kind of fun in other countries.

On the other hand there are many bewildering rules: There is a law stipulating what height letter boxes must be, a new regulation requiring that all owners of gites must accept dogs, a rule that swimming pool owners must fit either a fence or an alarm and a regulation that payslip stubs to be kept for the life of the owner.

Both the French citizens and their law enforcers seem to take a pragmatic view about all the red tape however. Our local town cannot afford to have any round the clock police presence at all - much less the time to stop and search through people's glove compartments for breathalysers and non-complient GPS receivers.
posted by rongorongo at 3:25 PM on February 27, 2012


To those saying that having the breathalyzer in the car isn't the same as making them use it — I think you're missing the point, which is that rational self-interest will motivate people to use them.

...and that rational self interest damned well better kick in when you're aware of the price of a DUI!

One of the wineries I frequent is owned by a commercial airline pilot. He has to certify every 6 months that he has not had a DUI charge, let alone a conviction. If he were to catch a DUI, he'd have to deal with all of the stuff the state requires (more on that in a minute), plus he would be suspended from his job without pay until he completed a retraining and alcohol awareness program, and he would have to agree to never drink alcohol again, as long as he is employed by that airline. Another DUI or any other alcohol related offense after completing this program would result in instant termination. Obviously, no more alcohol is not a situation a vintner can get himself into. Not if he wants to remain a vintner, anyway.

Add to it, the state penalties - Lose your license for 6 months, mandatory. You can get a hardship waiver to drive to and from work only, but you have to wait 30 days to apply, and there's a fee for it. Up that suspension to a year if you're convicted of "High BAC". Then add an alcohol awareness program (at your expense), two years of Driver Responsibility fees at $1K per year, plus fines, license reinstatement fees after the suspension, court costs, and attorney's fees, and you're looking at spending around $15K on your DUI charge.

Lorenzo, being a smart businessman who is aware that most of his clientele will be visiting more than just his winery in a given day, sells breathalyzers for $30. He can't keep them in stock.
posted by MissySedai at 3:30 PM on February 27, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm deeply suspicious of this kind of law. Who's supplying the government-sanctioned kits? Who's supplying the government-sanctioned breathalyzers? This is a law mandating that everybody buys X, while probably providing very specific requirements for X. And what a coincidence - somewhere in Europe there's someone with warehouses full of X.
posted by falameufilho at 3:39 PM on February 27, 2012


Small breathalyzers that cost less than several hundred dollars are wildly inaccurate. Even the lab-grade variety which I have played with require careful calibration and proper technique when you blow. I wonder how long until someone tries the "but I blew legal!" defense.
posted by slow graffiti at 4:41 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some of us don't actually drink.

Being compelled to buy something to prove to ourselves that we're not drunk would be rather annoying to put it mildly.
posted by philipy at 4:41 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's $2. If everyone has one, you're less likely to be killed by a drunk driver. The "I don't drink" objection seems short sighted.
posted by craichead at 4:44 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I actually bought myself a breathalyzer earlier this year (I'm in Australia, not France by the way). I got it because I've had my licence for under three years and the laws in my state dictate that I have to have a BAC of 0.00. I've always known that alcohol can affect me in unpredictable ways (like the random times that I've had a single glass of red and gotten headspins followed by terrible hangovers) and I realised that I had no idea how quickly I processed alcohol. I simply didn't have any idea whether if I had a couple of glasses of vino with a meal, did that mean I could drive the next day?

So I bought a breathalyzer (they go for about $100+ in Australia) and it was FASCINATING! I'm yet to do a controlled experiment, but I found some incredible variation in how I personally process alcohol. Now the breathalyser comes out when folks come over, hell, it goes in my handbag when I go out. ALL my friends want to know the rate at which they metabolise alcohol - and the results have shown a huge amount of variance. The best bit? Everyone who has tried out the breathalyzer has ended up being more aware of how much they drink and how it affects them, and how stupid they would be to drive under the influence. Surely this can only be a good thing.
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 5:15 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Both the French citizens and their law enforcers seem to take a pragmatic view about all the red tape however. Our local town cannot afford to have any round the clock police presence at all - much less the time to stop and search through people's glove compartments for breathalysers and non-complient GPS receivers.

I think the difficulty in France is that the type and officiousness of the policing you will encounter is highly dependent on where you are. As I understand it (from the explanations of French people) municipal police will carry out most of the routine work in smaller communes, with a national police or gendarmes presence in larger urban communes or to cover a large rural area respectively. The national police forces generally seem to be perceived as being more officious if they have the chance and the manpower, probably as they don't come under the control of local politics. Certainly complaints from my French friends in Douarnenez have increased since the arrival of a significant number of gendarmes in recent years.

It is all a bit boggling to me as an outsider, and it does seem to make for somewhat inconsistent application of laws at times.
posted by howfar at 5:48 PM on February 27, 2012


I'm deeply suspicious of this kind of law. Who's supplying the government-sanctioned kits? Who's supplying the government-sanctioned breathalyzers?

Being compelled to buy something to prove to ourselves that we're not drunk would be rather annoying to put it mildly.

I think these two comments illustrate perfectly how public perception of these sorts of things differs in the States from in Europe, and why this kind of law would be so hard to get in the U.S. Regrettably, in my view; I think we take the defense of trivial personal liberties and baseless suspicion of the government to self-destructive extremes, but to each his own.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 6:19 PM on February 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


And sorry, I don't mean to be argumentative; instead of "trivial," I should have said "minor;" and rather than "baseless," I meant something more like, "starting from a position of suspicion." Government is guilty until proven innocent in the U.S.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 6:21 PM on February 27, 2012


Some of us don't actually drink.

Being compelled to buy something to prove to ourselves that we're not drunk would be rather annoying to put it mildly.


You might find other uses for it, like proving to your friend that he's too drunk to drive. I find that having to pay taxes on a car I already pad taxes on annoying, yet I I still have to do it.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:26 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a bad feeling about this.
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:41 PM on February 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Their map of driver BAC limits is very handwavey. They have Canada marked as 0.08-0.1% concentration. The only province that high is Quebec at 0.08. The rest are 0.05, with Saskatchewan suspending at 0.04.
posted by Decimask at 7:31 PM on February 27, 2012


Thanks, dixiecupdrinking, I agree 100% and couldn't have said it better. It boggles my mind that people think this is objectionable. Yes, that is $2 more you need to spend to drive legally, yes most people won't use it, yes enforcement will be problematic, yes someone will make money off of it. But if this helps even 1% of people be more aware of their personal response to drinking, it will be worth it.

And charlie don't surf, all that story proves is that a**holes gonna be a**holes.
posted by ianhattwick at 8:32 PM on February 27, 2012


In a country where gas costs about $7.80 per gallon, I imagine the phrase "poor drivers" is not one that gets used very often.

You cannot be serious. French drivers are far, far less apt to anticipate situations developing half a mile down the road than even drivers in LA. They live in a little bubble about 50m in diameter. If there is a wreck down the road half a mile they pay it no heed, then "OMG THERE IS A WRECK AND IT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME AND I'M SWERVING NOW".

On the other hand, the French seem awfully law-abiding considering their reputation. Put up a few discreet no-smoking signs, have a week of radio ads, and presto! no more smoking in the Métro! People generally don't hassle the few rebels who still light up there, but nowadays it simply isn't done.
posted by jet_silver at 8:40 PM on February 27, 2012


French drivers are far, far less apt to anticipate situations developing half a mile down the road than even drivers in LA. They live in a little bubble about 50m in diameter. If there is a wreck down the road half a mile they pay it no heed, then "OMG THERE IS A WRECK AND IT IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME AND I'M SWERVING NOW".

Well, that explains it.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:03 PM on February 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The one time in my life that I probably drove drunk I count I would have had I had a breathalyzer on me. I swear this story is true. It is also 20 years old, so I admit to having been a dumbass asshole two decades ago.

Wow. Your teen years must been a lot different from mine.

I'm not saying that's a bad thing.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:31 PM on February 27, 2012


I imagine the phrase "poor drivers" is not one that gets used very often.

jet_silver: You cannot be serious. French drivers are far, far less apt to anticipate situations developing half a mile down the road than even drivers in LA.


poor as in not much money, dude. Not as in 'bad at driving'.
posted by jacalata at 9:47 PM on February 27, 2012


I suggest that everyone who is opposed to this spend a weekend riding with the local volunteer fire department.

After about the third time you cut the mangled body of a drunk driver - or the sober one in the vehicle she hit - out of a wrecked vehicle, you'll wonder why the penalty for DUI isn't life imprisonment.

Great idea. And 2 dollars is less than what it costs to buy one of those reflective warning triangles that is also mandatory across Europe. Those save lives too.
posted by three blind mice at 11:07 PM on February 27, 2012


great idea.

Is it bad that I read this and thought "great! emergency asthma treatment in every car!" ?

To add to the annecdotes, I don't drink and think this is a good idea, I would be willing to pay for this.
posted by titanium_geek at 1:13 AM on February 28, 2012


An interesting approach to tackling drinking and driving. Never mind the breathalyzers, but safety vests, bulbs and fire extinguishers too. A complete road safety package.

It's true that stopping for roadside emergencies are dangerous, that's when gawkers drive into cars pulled over. A safety vest and triangle caution sign could help avoid that.

Gotta say, I had a burnt out headlight. Purchased a new bulb, but couldn't install it, the space was so small or my hand too big, I had my mechanic put it in.

The sushi story was hilarious and the 2m40 link was great.

I'm all for zero tolerance when it comes to drinking and driving, in Ontario, the same limit applies to boating. Family visited Poland, zero BAC, period.
posted by alicesshoe at 2:16 AM on February 28, 2012


The reaction in our offices (I'm in France) has been interesting – "cool, it will be easier to buy breathalyzers and replacement lights".

If it's the only way you have of getting to your place of employment, I'd imagine that, like the US, there are plenty of poor drivers no matter what the cost of gas.

They just aren't taking the gorram Autoroute to get there because if my friend in Geneva can be believed, Christ, French highways are expensive.


Public transportation here kicks the ass of just about every other country on the planet. TGV aside (I still get wide-eyed and grin when I see one, even just parked), there are regional trains, buses, trams, public bicycle schemes, public electric CAR schemes, metros... I know very, very few people whose only means of transportation to work is a car. Most of them chose to live in the backcountry, where things like, oh, say, the Alps make large buses and such a bit difficult to get around. But more accessible small towns will have access to public transportation too.

I live in Nice and pay 1 (one) euro per day for unlimited bus and tram trips in the entire 06 département. The bus I ride to work is an express line that takes the autoroute. It's included in the 1€/day subscription. This is me grinning with a large chunk of my salary free to spend on other things. I haven't owned a car in 15 years.
posted by fraula at 2:35 AM on February 28, 2012 [2 favorites]


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