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.
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.
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).
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).
Rules may vary depending on the situation: normal license, probationary license, accompanied driving or driving with EAD: titleContent.
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.
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:
- 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
- Public Health Code: Articles L3341-1 to L3341-4Repression of public drunkenness
- Public Health Code: Articles L3342-1 to L3342-4Protection of minors
- Public Health Code: Articles L3353-1 to L3353-6Penalties for sale or offer of alcohol to a minor (L3353-3)
- Public Health Code: Articles L3335-1 to L3335-11Prohibition of physical and sporting activities in certain places and establishments
- Public Health Code: Sections R3353-1 to R3353-5-1Fine for drunkenness on public roads
- Public Health Code: Article R3342-1Prohibited items for minors
- Public Health Code: Articles L3413-1 to L3413-4Injunction to care
- Labor Code: Articles R4228-19 and R4228-25Alcohol in company (items R4228-19 to R4228-21)
- Highway Code: Articles R234-1 to R234-7Alcohol content of 0,20 g or more per liter
- Government instruction of 27 September 2016 on the obligation to make available to customers screening devices in beverage establishments (PDF - 991.2 KB)Provision of breath tests
- Order of 17 October 2016 laying down the models and places of affixing of the posters provided for in Article L3342-4 of the Public Health CodeModels of posters to be displayed in beverage outlets