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French Police, YIKES! #135490
07/12/2017 12:20 PM
07/12/2017 12:20 PM
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bivangrp Offline OP
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bivangrp  Offline OP
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Just returned from a great trip to St. Maarten. Almost 50 trips in the past 30 years and we've seen a lot of changes. One of the more concerning is the DUI check points that pop up all over the French side of the island at all times of the day. When we ask why? The locals tell us to get extra money from the tourist. They say you "pay your fine on the spot"! We are told the BAL is set a .04 ! That's half of California's .08 level and it only takes a beer or two and you're in trouble before you know it. That one glass of wine could become very expensive too! We continue to avoid the French side and only made 2 trips on this vacation as we don't want any trouble while in paradise. Just thought I'd pass along this info. in case anyone intends on drinking on the French side while on the island. Be really careful as your vacation could go south quickly !!!

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Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: bivangrp] #135491
07/12/2017 12:46 PM
07/12/2017 12:46 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 355
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sasasal Offline
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sasasal  Offline
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Of cource this is about making money... However, in my way of thinking!!! Yes if someone is driving drunk they should pay a penalty, but to stop people for the sake of money is only more reason to avoid the French side of Island. They have lost tourists due to crime, and of cource lots will not venture there in eve hours. Have to say!!! they do not care about the loss. My husband was stopped randomly going on the French side and because he did not have his passport, was taken to the French jail... thank god our rental agency went into our villa and brought his passport. he was let go, but had to walk back to his car where they picked him up. Long walk yup... Not happy, bad for tourisim? you bet. We no longer go on French side, and do not miss it... Everything we need and love is on the dutch side. Sad but true... When police abuse there authority they will be the loosers.. My opinion... More to do on dutch side anyway. And most good resturants moved to dutch side as they were not making it. If they cared they would try and play fair....

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: sasasal] #135492
07/12/2017 12:53 PM
07/12/2017 12:53 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 4,266
Portland, OR
jazzgal Online content
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jazzgal  Online Content
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I'm sorry for your husband's unfortunate experience, but you are giving the French side an inaccurate characterization IMO. I just returned from four weeks on the island and saw a gendarme stop once, and they didn't pull me over. Several times throughout my trip I drove to Grand Case and back in the dark by myself without incident. There's no way I would stop going to the French side, but that's me.


[Linked Image]
Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: jazzgal] #135493
07/12/2017 01:03 PM
07/12/2017 01:03 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 355
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sasasal Offline
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sasasal  Offline
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Happy you had no contact with the French police. However we did, and we have been traveling since the mid 80s. We have a villa on Island, and never ever drove drunk. He also had to pay a steep fine to get out of jail. Sorry if this report insults some, the truth hurts sometimes... We do not go back... We have great resturants and night life on the dutch side. Hope they can meet the concerns of tourists, as we used to love it... For now... that's our story... oh and by the way!!! they were mean in allowing my husband to walk miles back to his car where they picked him up, its hot and was in the middle of the day... <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/duh.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/duh.gif" alt="" />

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: sasasal] #135494
07/12/2017 01:17 PM
07/12/2017 01:17 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 355
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sasasal Offline
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sasasal  Offline
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All because he did not have his passport? We so not like taking our passport with us out and about. Very risky. so this was about money and a show of power... We are not young and did not deserve this treatment. However hopefully it does not happen to anyone else... Just our experience, not a good one, but a huge lesson in where we are comfortable...

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: jazzgal] #135495
07/12/2017 01:25 PM
07/12/2017 01:25 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,979
Brookfield, CT.
pat Offline
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pat  Offline
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Linda,

With all due respect, you are incredible in that you do get out and about the island - ALL OF IT - as a solo traveler far more than many of us these days. There was a time, back in the day, when we wouldn't have thought twice about an evening trip to Marigot or Grand Case for dinner but these days, really - not so much.

Sasasal,

The gendarmes are doing their job with these traffic controls, whether anyone likes it or not. But there's no reason for them to be less than pleasant about it. And the controls are not just about checking the alcohol levels of drivers but I have to say, I've never heard of anyone being held in jail for not having their passports on them and a ride back to the car would have been nice.

We don't spend much time on the French side of the island these days and if we go there, it's generally for a day/lunch at FBBC, Dreams or Anse Marcel Beach Club and when we are there I don't worry about the alcohol thing since one of us doesn't drink at all. But I sure will be copying our passports and keep them with us in the future so thank you for the heads up.

Good thing your car wasn't stolen while your DH languished in jail awaiting his passport arrival! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/duh.gif" alt="" /> <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/duh.gif" alt="" />


Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."
Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: sasasal] #135496
07/12/2017 01:28 PM
07/12/2017 01:28 PM
Joined: Feb 2007
Posts: 252
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mmk Offline
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mmk  Offline
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I am so glad to see the gendarmes setting road blocks to catch drunk drivers. Too many visitors to the islands feel they are in some developing nation so it is ok to drive drunk something they would not chance at home. Also each country is free to set their BAL limit. Many countries have lowered their .08 to .05 or less. Don't break the law and you will have no problems.

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: mmk] #135497
07/12/2017 01:39 PM
07/12/2017 01:39 PM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 4,736
Massachusetts
boucharda Offline
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boucharda  Offline
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It's ironic that this is a country (France) when everyone has wine with their meals and one glass (160lb person) will put you at or above that 0.04. It's really hard to rally against those "drunk drivers"

Edit: I could find no reference that stated that requires carrying a passport at all times in France. Most travel sites advise against it.

US State Department

Last edited by boucharda; 07/12/2017 01:48 PM.
Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: sasasal] #135498
07/12/2017 01:51 PM
07/12/2017 01:51 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 201
Clarksville, Maryland
KarenandRick Offline
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KarenandRick  Offline
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Clarksville, Maryland
I was under the impression that we only needed to carry our drivers license when driving in St. Martin... is that not the case? I have not been pulled over in 20 years of travel to St. Martin but certainly never want to experience what you and your husband did.

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: pat] #135499
07/12/2017 01:52 PM
07/12/2017 01:52 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 355
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sasasal Offline
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sasasal  Offline
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again this was husbands experience. It was random, and I was not on Island with him. He was there for a check on our villa. Was it bad? yup. He tried to explain that he had a house on Island, and tried to tell them why he did not have his passport. They were not going to buy any of it. So be it. He thank god had someone on Island that was able to get his passport out of our villa and present it to them. but again!!! that made us really more convinced that the respect for tourists was gone, and we do not want to go back.. Will that change? perhaps, but for now, do not need to venture there... Sorry for who ever this insults. but better to be aware of ways they can make money on the innocent than be in the dark... We are not new to the Island, so this for us was a setback for sure...

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: mmk] #135500
07/12/2017 01:54 PM
07/12/2017 01:54 PM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 1,562
Long Island, NY
RICKnGRACE_LI_NY Offline
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RICKnGRACE_LI_NY  Offline
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Posts: 1,562
Long Island, NY
You are responding to sassal, who, at the beginning of the story said they had not been drinking. Her husband didn't have his passport. So, you have your facts wrong and the tone of you post seems a bit over the top.
JMHO


Rick and Grace
Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: mmk] #135501
07/12/2017 02:08 PM
07/12/2017 02:08 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 355
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sasasal Offline
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sasasal  Offline
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this was not about alcohol, was the middle of the day. husband stopped, asked for passport, and taken away... We never drive when we drink, but frankly, Hope this never happens to anyone, but this was uncalled for... and again!!! on top of it all, they did not offer a ride back to his car... So lets forget about drunk driving, this is about ways to make money... I think the French side of Island needs to put more effort into getting tourisim back.. but I do not think they care.. If I am wrong? been wrong before, nope will not go back, Respect is all.

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: sasasal] #135502
07/12/2017 02:28 PM
07/12/2017 02:28 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 15,917
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Online content
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SXMScubaman  Online Content
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So this was your husbands experience and explanation and you weren't there. Could there be another side or situation to this that you don't know about that wasn't told you why the jail time. I find it hard to believe that just not having a passport while driving would result to this. Just a thought.

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: sasasal] #135503
07/12/2017 02:28 PM
07/12/2017 02:28 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,177
Virginia
Snorkeller Offline
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Snorkeller  Offline
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Posts: 1,177
Virginia
An unfortunate experience, for sure. The laws in France are rather crazy about what you need to have in your car - even a rental car.

Of course, as always, whether the law in the Collectivitie is the same as in European France - who knows.

As a basic, though, you should always have good photo id with you when driving a car on the island (or anywhere). One of the first things I do when getting the rental car is put color photocopies of my passport and my Virginia driver's license in the glove compartment.

It may be that the fact your husband had no photo id at all with him when driving was at least part of the problem.

No one should be driving without having in their possession (e.g., in the car) a photo id - and, if you are in a foreign country - it is certainly best to have at least a color photocopy of your passport with you.

We have passed through many check points on french-side over the years on the island - always just waved on without being asked for anything.

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: Snorkeller] #135504
07/12/2017 02:31 PM
07/12/2017 02:31 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 15,917
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Online content
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SXMScubaman  Online Content
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I would not leave a photo copy of my passport in the glove compartment of a car. Break ins happen and I would not want that floating around or in the possession of a criminal.

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: SXMScubaman] #135505
07/12/2017 02:37 PM
07/12/2017 02:37 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 355
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sasasal Offline
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sasasal  Offline
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Posts: 355
no other side period. We have a rental company taking care of our property while away or off Island, they went to the house to get the passport and present it to them. You can twist and turn this however you like. this was just a bad experience for husband, and I heard of it on phone calls by him and a reputable agency that we use... Yes perhaps he should have had a passport on him, but he did have driver licence. they did not want to hear anything... We learned a grave lesson in this, but will for just principles stay away for a long while... If you read above, you will see that we are owners of property and have been coming to the Island for many years, not good, but it happened. please try not to put the blame where it does not belong. this was wrong. period.. By the way, my husband was 68 years old at the time. Is he due repect? yup... uncalled for..

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: SXMScubaman] #135506
07/12/2017 02:44 PM
07/12/2017 02:44 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 12,460
île staten
Bobcat Offline
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Bobcat  Offline
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île staten
You're right Scubaman and most likely a photocopy might not be acceptable proof of identity.

We have passport cards, the same size as a drivers license and they are valid passports, good for identification we carry around just in case.
=============
LINK


[Linked Image]
Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: mmk] #135507
07/12/2017 02:55 PM
07/12/2017 02:55 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 1,549
Manhattan
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weeks5051 Offline
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weeks5051  Offline
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Manhattan
Did you not read? The couple DIDN'T break the law and they still had problems.

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: bivangrp] #135508
07/12/2017 03:01 PM
07/12/2017 03:01 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 746
Chicago area & St-Martin
ChiTownHarry Offline
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ChiTownHarry  Offline
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I am sorry for your experience. We own a condo on the French side and have been stopped at a checkpoint a few times. The Gendarmes were always polite and respectful. We have never, ever been asked for our passports, as we do not carry them. We do carry our rental contract and our driver's licenses, but rarely been asked for them. Usually, after we speak a few words in English, the wave us through. I believe they're main focus is finding illegals. We spend most (90%) of our time on the French side.


--ChiTownHarry
Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: ChiTownHarry] #135509
07/12/2017 03:42 PM
07/12/2017 03:42 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 355
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sasasal Offline
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sasasal  Offline
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I think we should drop this, as for those that love and go to the French side of Island, will not be able to understand or want to understand this experience. It happened, may never happen again to anyone, but it happened. Please lets leave this here, as everyone has there own take on this, right or wrong. Just our experience... not yours. let it go

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: ChiTownHarry] #135510
07/12/2017 03:44 PM
07/12/2017 03:44 PM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 4,736
Massachusetts
boucharda Offline
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boucharda  Offline
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Again, I can find no evidence other than someone's opinion that it is mandatory to carry a passport with you at all times in France. Yes you need ID but most have a driver's license which has worked for me twice but both times in France itself.

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: SXMScubaman] #135511
07/12/2017 03:47 PM
07/12/2017 03:47 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 1,177
Virginia
Snorkeller Offline
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Snorkeller  Offline
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If someone wants to steal paper out of the glove compartment, it is a risk I willingly take.

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: boucharda] #135512
07/12/2017 04:01 PM
07/12/2017 04:01 PM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 4,736
Massachusetts
boucharda Offline
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boucharda  Offline
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OK, I found this on the French Government Tourism site:

[quote]PASSPORTS AND VISAS All U.S. and Canadian citizens, including infants, need a valid passport to enter France. Visas are not required for American and Canadian visitors staying in France for up to 90 days. For more information, contact your nearest French Consulate. See a list of local French consulates in the U.S. It is mandatory in France to carry some form of identification at all times. If you lose your passport, the nearest U.S. Consulate will issue Americans a limited-validity replacement if travel is imminent, or a full-validity passport if further travel is not within two weeks. When in France, please carry a photocopy of your passport separately from your passport

ID required...passport not required. Copy used "to facilitate replacement if lost"

Also: I would NEVER leave a copy of my passport in the car. Way too much personal info on it.

Last edited by boucharda; 07/12/2017 04:06 PM.
Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: boucharda] #135513
07/12/2017 04:31 PM
07/12/2017 04:31 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 186
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JulieandKarl Offline
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JulieandKarl  Offline
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Posts: 186
Quote
boucharda said:
It's ironic that this is a country (France) when everyone has wine with their meals and one glass (160lb person) will put you at or above that 0.04. It's really hard to rally against those "drunk drivers"


Edit: I could find no reference that stated that requires carrying a passport at all times in France. Most travel sites advise against it.

US State Department


France has much more public transportation than the US. 0.04 encourages people to use it and not drive

Last edited by JulieandKarl; 07/12/2017 04:37 PM.
Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: JulieandKarl] #135514
07/12/2017 05:19 PM
07/12/2017 05:19 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 746
Chicago area & St-Martin
ChiTownHarry Offline
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ChiTownHarry  Offline
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I don't think this is about alcohol level, as the OP didn't say the gendarmes tested her husband. Its about how they were treated at the checkpoint. Just my 2 cents...


--ChiTownHarry
Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: ChiTownHarry] #135515
07/12/2017 05:32 PM
07/12/2017 05:32 PM
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 4,736
Massachusetts
boucharda Offline
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boucharda  Offline
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Correct...but there seems to be no reason for his detainment and being put in jail. There is no requirement to have a passport on ones person while driving.

I agree, the thread is not about alcohol but it seemed to morph to that because of the confusing detainment. If there WAS an alcohol component then they probably wouldn't have let him return to his car and drive. I would assume something else was involved.

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: boucharda] #135516
07/12/2017 06:05 PM
07/12/2017 06:05 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 15,917
Auburn, WA
SXMScubaman Online content
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SXMScubaman  Online Content
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Maybe a bad argumentative attitude was involved. Who's to say. I wasn't there and neither was the spouse to know all the factors that forced the final result. Just seems a little off to me.

Re: French Police, YIKES! [Re: sasasal] #135517
07/12/2017 06:49 PM
07/12/2017 06:49 PM
Joined: Jul 2014
Posts: 24
modct Offline
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I think we all opined enough and since none of us were there it's time to lock this up.


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