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French Traffic Laws of 2019

Updated: Jan 16, 2020

As a reminder to anyone visiting France this year, here are the major new traffic laws that were introduced in 2019.

Paris bans old diesels & introduces fines

Diesel vehicles registered before 2001 are no longer permitted to drive in the 79 communes in the Greater Paris area. Ministers in Paris voted for the rule, which applies to all diesel vehicles registered before December 31, 2000. - the aim is to make Greater Paris a “low emissions zone” from summer 2019. Ministers are also aiming to forbid diesel vehicles completely in the Greater Paris area by 2024, and have discussed the possibility of banning all diesel and petrol cars by 2030.

Drivers in Paris can also be fined for blocking traffic at busy intersections - and the capital's cameras are now watching for motorists who enter a crossroads when their exit is blocked, they will now face a fine of €90 if they are caught on camera. France's Highway Code states that the offence of causing 'congestion at intersections', by driving into an intersection and obstructing traffiic' is an offence punishable by a fine - but authorities have rarely clamped down on this particular road traffic law infringement.

Pedestrian crossings

Drivers who do not respect pedestrian priority - including at pedestrian crossings and anywhere on the roads where pedestrians have priority over cars - will now lose six points from their licence, rather than the previous four.

France is starting to paint “buffer zones” of two to five metres in front of pedestrian crossings across a road, these will be painted onto the road surface with a thick, white, dashed line showing the stopping limits. Under the new buffer zone rules, drivers will now be required to come to a complete stop before this dashed white line if there are any pedestrians waiting or preparing to cross. A fine of €35 is liable for drivers failing to stop before the white lines.

Too many passengers

Drivers also face the removal of three points from their driving licence if found with too many passengers in the car (any seats with more than one person each).

Crit'Air scheme extended

The anti-pollution scheme in place in many large cities is to be extended to 10 more areas by the end of 2020. Stickers are already required to be displayed by any vehicles entering Paris, Rennes, Grenoble, Lyon, Strasbourg, Annecy & Lyon. By the end of this year they will also be required in Clermont Ferrand, Marseille, Aix en Provence, St Etienne, Reims, Toulon & Rouen. Full details of the scheme can be found on the "Useful Info" page.

Cheaper garage bills

If you are unlucky enough to break down in France, a new law introduced last year states that the garage must offer you the option of using second hand replacement parts (if available) at a saving of between 30 to 50% over new parts.

Breathalysers no longer needed

Drivers in France are no longer be forced to carry breathalysers in their vehicles at all times, as the discredited and ignored law that required it has finally been formally scrapped. The law was introduced in 2013 as a means to improve drink-driving figures, but the scheme has not “proven effective” in combating the issue, the government said, and it has now been formally scrapped. Motoring organisations outside France continued to recommend that drivers heading to the country should carry one of the disposable kits to avoid problems in case they were stopped. They have long been advertised as a legal requirement on ferries from the UK to France. The law was widely discredited after it was reported that a lobbyist who had called for its mandatory introduction was an executive at a company that manufactured the testing kits.

Autoroute breakdown charges increased

The charges if you break down on a French autoroute were increased in 2019. The charges are now 127€ for a vehicle under 1.8 tonnes & 157€ for those between 1.8 & 3.5 tonnes. These prices include up to 30 mins spent troubleshooting or towing, but these rates are increased by 50% between 6pm & 8am or at weekends.

Autoroute lane fines

Drivers in France who linger in the middle or left lanes of a motorway without good reason can now be punished with a fine of up to €150. See the post below for more details.

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