If you’re thinking of doing the rounds at en primeur in Bordeaux, or domaine hopping in Burgundy, forget the corkscrew: the one essential thing you’ll need if you’re behind the wheel is a breathalyzer.
New legislation goes into effect in July (though enforcement with a $23 fine for not having one won’t begin until November) that requires all cares, even rentals to have a new, disposable breathalyzer in the vehicle.
France has been cracking down on drunken driving. It became an issue briefly in the last presidential campaign yet road fatalities have remained high. And it’s election year again in France and President Sarkozy is a teetotaler, law and order type. France is now the first country in the world to have such a law on the books.
It’s not as restrictive as an “alcolock” that would require a clean breathalyzer test before being able to start the ignition. The aim is to boost awareness; the blood alcohol level is 0.05%. Being caught above 0.08% BAC (the limit in many states in the US) could result in a $6,000 fine and jail time.