Priority to the right: the “Priorité à droite

This feature of historic French driving law causes much confusion for foreign drivers across France. It is a dangerous law and should be outlawed. When applied the problem is this: when driving along a road, anyone joining from your right hand side has priority over the main carriageway on which you are driving. They do not have to stop, instead you have to slow and give way to the joining vehicle, no matter the size of the adjoining road... This driving law is thankfully not widely used any more. The sign indicates that the road on which you are driving has priority. However, be very careful, the reality is that not every French driver follows this legislation! There are places where you need to be extremely careful: small villages and in the countryside. You will often find that on minor roads priorité à droite is still assumed. On main national roads, there is less need to worry, as priority to the right is no longer officially used.

Sanctions and Penalties

Non respect of Priorité à droite:

  • Amende contractuelle: €135
  • Amende contractuelle minorée (if you pay within 3 or 15 days): €90
  • Amende contractuelle majorée: €375.

Drink driving Laws in France

France has very strict drink driving laws . You are allowed a maximum of 0.5mg/ml of alcohol per litre in your blood, compared to 0.8mg/ml in the UK.

Sanctions and Penalties for Drink driving in France

If you have between 0.5 and 0.8mg of alcohol in your blood you could be fined between €135 to €750. You will not be allowed to drive until the alcohol level drops to 0.5mg. Refer to the grid for more precise information. If you have more than 0.8mg of alcohol in your blood, you will have to take your test. The policemen have the right to stop any driver at random to check a driver’s papers and carry out an alcohol test.

Driving whilst under the influence of drugs

The same penalties apply as for driving under the influence of alcohol. The quantity of drugs consumed cannot be measured, only tested for .

Use of Stop signs in France

You must to stop at a STOP sign.

Sanctions and Penalty Fines

  • Amende Contractuelle: €135
  • Amende Contractuelle minorée (if you pay within 3 or 15 days): €90
  • Amende Contractuelle majorée: €375.

Zebra crossings

You must stop at Zebra crossings, this is enforced by law, but not widely practiced in France.

Sanctions and Penalty Fines

  • Amende Contractuelle: €135
  • Amende Contractuelle minorée (if you pay within 3 or 15 days): €90
  • Amende Contractuelle majorée: €375.

Paying a driving penalty fine

You have three days to pay an on-the-spot speeding fine, or 15 days if the notification of the fine is received in the post. If the fine is paid in less than 15 days, it is discounted (Amende Contractuelle minorée). If the fine is paid in more than 45 days it is increased dramatically (Amende Contractuelle majorée). To pay a penalty fine for a traffic offence, you have to buy a stamp, “timbre-amende”, from a tabac or the Trésor Public. Stick the stamp on to the fine notice, the “carte-lettre”, which has been issued by the gendarmerie and post to the address printed on the “carte-lettre”. You can also pay by cheque by making the cheque out to the “Trésor Public”. If you are caught by a fixed speed camera (radar) you will receive a notification and fine in the post which also details how many points you will be deducted from your license. If someone else was driving your car when caught speeding, you will receive the fine but are expected to inform the gendarmes of real identity of the driver. If not, you will have the points deducted from your own licence.


If there appears to be something wrong with your car you should pull into the emergency lane and switch on your hazard warning lights. You are now bound by law to bring with you a red warning triangle, most people have this attached to the interior of their vehicles' boot. It is the same for high visibility jacket, so that you can be clearly seen at night if you break down. Please note: The triangle has to be placed at a distance of 100m (109 yards) from the car on motorways and 30m (32 yards) on other roads. If not possible (towns for instance), the distance can be reduced. There are orange SOS emergency phone located on the side of the road every 2 kilometres on all autoroutes (motorways). There are road patrols on all sections of the autoroutes if you are worried about leaving your car unattended.


If you require an ambulance or assistance, you can use the orange SOS phones, which are located at the side of the road, much like in England. You must also call the police or Gendarmes. Phone numbers, below. If your vehicle is damaged you should write down the extent of the damage to you or the other person's vehicle, ideally getting the document signed by the other party, you should also swap personal and insurance details with the other party. Your insurance company/provider may have issued you with an "European Accident Statement" form for these purposes. In France you are required to carry proof that your car is insured.

Emergency Numbers

There are a few emergency numbers you should take note of: Emergency contact numbers
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