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DRINK DRIVING

Depardieu skips French court to shoot DSK film

Busy shooting a film about disgraced ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Gerard Depardieu failed to turn up at a Paris hearing Friday to face a drink-driving charge. His no show could leave him facing criminal charges.

Depardieu skips French court to shoot DSK film
Photo: AFP

The actor, who has sparked controversy recently by moving to Belgium and taking Russian citizenship amid a tax row with French authorities, had also failed to appear at a January hearing due to previous engagements on the film.

"He wanted to be present, but he couldn't, he really regrets it," his lawyer told the court Friday, adding Depardieu was currently in New York to shoot the movie by director Abel Ferrara, in which he plays Strauss-Kahn.

The 64-year-old Depardieu was detained in Paris in November after falling off his scooter, which he had been driving while more than three times over the legal alcohol limit.

He risks being fined 4,500 euros ($5,800), jailed for up to two years and given penalty points.

The "Green Card" star has been involved in much controversy since he announced in November that he was moving abroad due to a 75 percent tax rate on incomes over one million euros that President Francois Hollande's government wanted to impose.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault branded the move "pathetic" and Depardieu struck back with a series of rants against the government, including an interview with Belgian media last month in which he said France was "sad" and that French people were "fed up".

After an offer from President Vladimir Putin, Depardieu also took up Russian citizenship.

Hailed as one of the greatest actors of his generation, Depardieu has in recent years become as famed for his erratic behaviour as for his acting talents.

In August, he was cautioned after punching a car driver who had forced him to swerve on his scooter, and in 2011 he generated global headlines when he tried to urinate in a bottle aboard a plane as it prepared to take off from Paris for Dublin.

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DRINK DRIVING

Drunk Frenchman on tractor runs over and kills two children

Two children were run over and killed by a Frenchman driving a tractor on a quiet country road in central France. The driver was found to be drunk at the wheel.

Drunk Frenchman on tractor runs over and kills two children
Photo: AFP

The tragic incident occurred at Montbazens, in the Aveyron department of central France on Saturday afternoon.

A 27-year-old driver, a firefighter, ran over and killed two children as he drove his tractor around a bend in the road.

The children, a 7-year-old boy and an 8-year-old girl, were on their bikes when they were struck. Paramedics tried to resuscitate the two children but without success.

The driver has been charged with aggravated manslaughter because he was found to be driving his vehicle under the influence of alcohol and judged not to have been in control of the tractor, which was also pulling a trailer loaded with soil.

Cherif Chabbi, the local prosecutor said the initial investigation suggested the driver took the bend too quickly.

The driver who admitted he had consumed alcohol at a family lunch before driving the tractor had a previous conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol in 2011.

Special psychology teams have been set up the village of Montbazens where the girl went to school and in the village in the department of the Lot where the boy was at school.

Drink-driving remains a persistent problem in France especially in rural areas.

In 2016 a survey by Axa insurance revealed almost one quarter of French drivers have admitted to drinking alcohol before driving.

Axa's Celine Soubranne told The Local at the time that “we still see a number of French drivers drinking small amounts of alcohol, because they still don't see any danger in it, even it it still means their awareness is reduced.

“They still think 'little alcohol, little danger',” Soubranne said.

Alcohol is the second leading cause of road fatalities in France – the first one being speed – and is responsible for around 10 percent of road deaths in France, the total of which last year stood at 3,456.

In 2015 the French government cracked down on drink driving among young people by reducing the legal limit from 0.5 grams/litre of alcohol in their bloodstream to 0.2.

Previous surveys have suggested the problem is even more worrying with the culture of drink-driving in France proving hard to extinguish.

The head of France's leading motorists group says France has failed to make the same progress as the UK.

“In contrast to the UK, drink-driving is not yet socially unacceptable in France,” Pierre Chasseray, the head of driver's group “40 million d'automobilistes” told The Local previously.

“In the UK it's become shameful to drink and drive but in France it is still accepted. For the last 40 years the government has done nothing to tackle this problem even though it is the main cause of deaths on France's roads.”

“The government needs to put in place a policy to prioritize reducing the levels of drink driving. In France up to now the authorities have been obsessed by cracking down on speeding, because it brings in money through speeding tickets.”

 

 

 

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