I discovered not long after moving here that drink driving was a completely acceptable part of the French life style. The consumption of wine at an ordinary meal time is not considered to impair driving skills. At parties, or just an evening out with friends, drinking and driving is accepted or even laughed at as people pile into cars at the end of the night.
I have even been ridiculed by my friends for making a stand against it and taking a taxi. This culturally acceptable drink driving is further encouraged by the fact that the French police do very little to stop it. For example, a friend of mine was stopped recently for driving in a bus lane at around midnight. He had drunk at least half a bottle of wine. The smell of alcohol must have been evident on his breath, but at no point did the police question or breathalyse him.
The driver of Princess Diana's car probably did not consider himself drunk or even a risk to others on the road. Furthermore, those who worked at the Ritz, who knew he had been drinking, would not have given it a second thought.
I do not blame French people for their drink driving habits, but I do feel that if the authorities and police were tougher on offenders and produced some hard hitting advertising campaigns similar to those shown in Britain, perhaps the situation would improve.