Drunkenness - Alcoholism

Verified 18 September 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

Can you drink alcohol freely? No, alcohol consumption is regulated and may be prohibited in certain places and for certain people. Similarly, drunkenness on public roads is illegal. We'll lay out the rules for you.

Public road

Public drunkenness

The apparent drunkenness in a public place (in the street, a park...) is prohibited.

There is no defined blood alcohol level to define such drunkenness. The state of drunkenness is assessed by law enforcement depending on the situation.

Law enforcement officers (e.g. national police officers, national gendarmerie officers, municipal police officers) are authorized to drive, at its own expense, a person who is intoxicated in sobering cell. This placement lasts for the time necessary for the effects of alcohol to dissipate (6 hours in general, but this period is left to the discretion of the person having authority or who took the initiative of the placement).

Sale and consumption of alcohol on public roads

The sale and consumption of alcohol on public roads is not prohibited.

However, they may be regulated by a local authority (for example, by a prefectural or municipal decree). Such regulation must be limited in time and space. For example: the sale and consumption of alcohol are prohibited near schools or the sale and consumption are prohibited in the city center from Saturday 2pm to Sunday 6am during the months of July and August.

The rules related to the sale of alcohol at night differ, in particular, according to the type of establishment.

Beverage outlets

The beverage outlets to be consumed on site may not be established around the following establishments:

  • Health establishments, centers for the care, support and prevention of addictology and reception and support centers for the reduction of risks for drug users
  • Educational, training, collective accommodation or youth leisure establishments
  • Stadiums, swimming pools, public or private sports grounds.

The drinking outlets at night must make available to customers breathalyzers. These breath tests must indicate the blood alcohol levels in force and remind people that beyond these levels it is forbidden to drive.


It is prohibited to sell or offer free alcohol in public places to minors under 18 years of age. Minors under 16 cannot enter a bar or café serving alcohol alone. He must be accompanied by a parent.

Stadiums and gymnasiums

The sale and distribution of alcohol is prohibited in stadiums and gymnasiums (except exceptional authorization).

By car

It is forbidden to drive with a blood alcohol level not less than 0,5 grams per liter of blood (or 0.2 grams per liter of blood, particularly with a probationary license or while driving).

Please note

Rules may vary depending on the situation: normal license, probationary license, accompanied driving or driving with EAD: titleContent.

At work

No alcoholic drinks other than wine, beer, cider and perry, is not permitted in the workplace.

These drinks may be permitted at special events (starting or ending of the year, birthday, business lunches...) or at the company restaurant (canteen).

The employer may also prohibit any alcohol in the company, for safety reasons in particular. It can be held liable in the event of an accident caused by a drunk employee.

Please note

It is forbidden to allow persons who are intoxicated to enter or stay in the workplace.

Public road drunkenness

A person arrested while intoxicated on the public highway may be subject to a fine of up to €150.

The person will be tried by the police court. The latter may be the place where the offense was committed or established or the place where the accused is resident.

In case of hospitalization (for example due to ethyl coma), the summons and hearing will take place later.

Overt drunkenness during hunting

A person who is visibly intoxicated during a hunting party is at risk €1,500 of fine.

Sale of alcohol to a minor

The sale of alcohol to minors of alcoholic beverages shall be punishable by €7,500 of fine.

The same shall apply to the supply of such beverages free of charge to minors in beverage outlets and in all shops or public places.

Reception of a minor under 16 years in a bar

The manager of an establishment (a bar or a café serving alcohol), who lets in a minor under 16 without a parent, faces a fine of €750.

Drinking and driving

Driving while under the influence of an alcoholic state is an offense which may result, depending on the blood alcohol level recorded:

  • Fine
  • Withdrawal of points from driving licenses
  • Suspension or withdrawal of the license,
  • Or even a prison sentence.

If you are addicted to alcohol, you can get help from your doctor or a specialized center.

It is also possible, if you wish to stay anonymous, to use the alcohol wiretap number.

Communication can also take place via chat.

Who shall I contact

In some cases, such as drunk driving, a magistrate may issue a care injunction (requiring a referral for care).

Who can help me?

Find who can answer your questions in your region