Illegal drugs, alcohol, tobacco: what does French law say ?
What do I risk if I use drugs?
Using drugs is prohibited in France. Drug use is an offense punishable by up to one year imprisonment and a €3,750 fine.
Nevertheless, users may also be ordered to attend, at their own expense, an awareness program regarding the dangers of drugs use or to undergo court-ordered therapy consisting of treatment or medical supervision.
What do I risk if I offer or sell drugs to another person?
The penalty is up to 5 years imprisonment and a €75,000 fine and imprisonment may be doubled for anyone who sells or offers drugs to minors or in or around a school or educational institution.
Look-outs, scouts, and other intermediaries are considered accomplices: they incur the same penalties even if they received no consideration in money or in kind.
At what age do I have the right to drink alcohol in licensed premises and buy alcohol ?
The sale, and even offering alcoholic beverages free of charge, to persons under the age of 18 is prohibited in licensed premises, shops, and public places. The person delivering the beverage may require the customer to establish proof of age.
"Open bars" – consisting of selling alcohol as a package deal – and "service at will" are also prohibited regardless of the consumer’s age.
What do I risk if I’m inebriated in the street or in a public place ?
A person found inebriated in the street, in bars, discos, and other public places may be taken to the police station and placed in a holding cell. The fine for obvious intoxication may reach €150.
Where am I not allowed to smoke?
In order to protect non-smokers, smoking is prohibited in places intended for collective use including bars, restaurants, and nightclubs. Smoking in public places risks a fine of €68.
At what age do I have the right to buy tobacco?
The sale of tobacco is prohibited to persons under the age of 18.
The risk of fatal road accidents increases very quickly when you have consumed alcohol or drugs. This risk is compounded in cases of combining drugs and alcohol. The risk of a fatal road accident is multiplied by 15 when alcohol is associated with cannabis.
What is the legal blood alcohol limit and what are the penalties?
It is forbidden to drive with a BAC greater than or equal to 0.5 grams of alcohol per liter of blood:
between 0.5 and 0.79 gram per liter of blood, offenders face a fine of €135 and the loss of 6 driving license points;
from 0.8 grams per liter of blood, offenders face two years imprisonment, a €4,500 fine and the loss 6 driving license points.
If a fatal accident occurs, offenders face up to 10 years imprisonment and a €150,000 fine. In all these cases, their driving license may be suspended or canceled. Offenders who do not have a home or a job in France may be forced to pay a fixed fine immediately, failing which, the vehicle may be impounded until a deposit of up to €4,500 is received.
If I take drugs (illegal in itself), may I then drive a car?
No. Drivers who test positive for a substance classified as a narcotic face up to two years imprisonment and a €4,500 fine. These penalties are increased to three years imprisonment and a €9,000 fine for drivers also under the influence of alcohol.
I would like to continue my opiate substitute treatment.
Opiate substitute treatments are legal in France. It is strongly recommended you have your treatment with you for the trip as well as your prescriptions because they may be requested at a border crossing or upon any contact with the police or gendarmerie. If during your trip in France, you need to get your treatment, contact a doctor or a structure of specialized care (in town or at a hospital) presenting the prescription established in your home country. (See list of structures on www.drogues-info-service.fr)
Help and Information
All information regarding UK drugs laws
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- Useful links (in French)
- Ministère de l’Intérieur, de l’Outre-Mer, des Collectivités territoriales et de l’Immigration
- Service-public. fr : Etrangers en France
- OFPRA : Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides
- Office française de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration