Driving license retention
Verified 26 January 2022 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)
Law enforcement has taken your driver's license and you wonder when and how you will be able to get it back? When you commit certain infringementsBut law enforcement can take your license. You're no longer allowed to drive. This page tells you rules on the retention of driving licenses.
The retention of the driving license shall take place in the following cases:
- Driven with 0.8 g or more of alcohol per liter of blood
- Overt drunk driving
- Refusal to comply with BAC checks
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Refusal to comply with drug use checks
- Exceeding the maximum authorized speed by 40 km/h or more, established by means of an approved device with vehicle interception
- In the event of a traffic accident resulting in the death of a person or causing bodily harm, if you are suspected of having violated the rules of use of the telephone held in hand, speed, crossing, overtaking, intersection or priority of passage
- Driving while holding a telephone in hand when the driver commits certain traffic offenses at the same time. These offenses include: driving rules, safe distance between vehicles, crossing and overlapping of continuous lines, traffic lights, speed, passing, stopping or giving way signs at an intersection, and pedestrian crossing priorities.
- Refusal to comply
Retention may occur in the following situations:
- On the occasion of random roadside checks by the police (police or gendarmes)
- On the occasion of a accident
- In case speedingmore than 40 km/h established by law enforcement authorities
The police (police or gendarmerie) take your license and give you a copy of the notice of detention.
If you are unable to present your permit, you have 24 hours to hand it over to the law enforcement agencies that controlled you.
Don't forget to report to law enforcement if the address on your permit has changed.
in case of accompanied driving, detention shall apply to the driver's escort's license if the offense relates to alcohol or the use of a narcotic.
You're no longer allowed to drive.
If you drive again, you risk a prison sentence up to 2 years and a fine of up to €4,500.
6 points are withdrawn from the driving license.
You may also additional penalties following:
- Confiscation of vehicle
- Suspension of the license for a maximum period of 3 years.
Such suspension may not be limited to driving outside the professional activity.
- Sentence of work of general interest
- Penalty of days-fine
- Prohibition on driving certain vehicles, including vehicles without a license, for a period of up to 5 years
- Obligation to perform, at your expense, a road safety awareness course
- Cancelation of license and prohibition to apply for a new license for up to 3 years
The retention of the license lasts Maximum 72 hours (120 hours after a drunk driving or drug offense).
During this period, the prefect (or the sub-prefect depending on the department) is alerted.
The verifications are made about you and your vehicle.
For example, checking your alcohol status with a blood test.
During retention, your vehicle may be immobilized.
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If the offense is not established
Your driving license is available to you:
- along the road by law enforcement if it is possible to prove immediately that the offense has not been established (e.g. with a breathalyzer)
- or after 72 hours (120 hours if checks are necessary).
After 72 hours or 120 hours, you can get your driver's licenseat the address indicated on the notice of detention.
Your permit is available within 12 hours of the end of the retention period.
If the detention ends between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., you can get your license back until noon the next day.
If you have not recovered it by the end of this period or if you request it, your permit will be returned to you by registered letter with AR: titleContent.
If the offense is confirmed
Law enforcement inform you about the storage of your driving license.
The following measures can then be notified :
- Warning from the prefect
- Administrative suspension
- Judicial suspension
- Judicial annulment
Who can help me?
Find who can answer your questions in your region
- Telephone administrative information - Allo Public Service
For more information on this topic, you can contact Allô Service Public.
Cost: free service
The informants who answer you belong to the Ministry of the Interior.
Attention: the service does not have access to users' personal files and cannot therefore provide information on their status.
The service is available at the following times:
- Monday: 8.30am to 5.30pm
- Tuesday: 8:30 to 12:15
- Wednesday: 8:30 to 12:15
- Thursday: 8.30am to 5.30pm
- Friday: 1 p.m. to 4:15 p.m
- Highway Code: Articles L224-1 to L224-18Infringements concerned (Article L224-1), penalties (Article L224-17)
- Highway Code: Articles R224-1 to R224-19-1Administrative detention and suspension after a finding of an infringement.
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- Point driver's license: how to make a claim?
- Driving license balance: how to know the number of points?
- Administrative suspension of driving licenseService-Public.fr
- Judicial suspension of driving licenseService-Public.fr
- Judicial cancelation of the driving license after an offenseService-Public.fr
- Driving license: scale of points withdrawn by offenseService-Public.fr
- Retrieval of driving license pointsService-Public.fr
- Driving alcohol: regulations and penaltiesMinistry of Transport