Voitures sans permis.. ...did you know this about them?

Driving with a friend yesterday we were stick behind a ‘sans permis’, and I idly said that I seem to see more and more of them driven by young people rather than the very mature. I wondered whether they were inheriting their granny’s cars.

Of course not she said “all the people who have lost their licence because of dangerous or drink driving just get one instead of a real car”. What!!! You lose you licence but are still allowed to manipulate a vehicle on public roads…is that illogical or what?

What about insurance I asked, if they have a poor driving record. “Oh, the sans permis vehicles are usually uninsured as nobody will insure them”. She went on to say that her sister-in-law (who is someone so daft that she is dangerous as a pedestrian) had failed her driving test 5 times, so now has just got a sans permis and found the insurance too expensive so hasn’t bothered as apparently it’s not a requirement. If this is all true, then how mad!

I will now avoid those yoghurt pots like the plague!


Hi Jane… quite some time ago… I mentioned my horror that, one does not need to have even read the “highway code” let alone passed a Driving Test… to use one of these vehicles… :zipper_mouth_face::worried::exploding_head: (I was told this was the case at that time, things may have changed )

Like you… we give them a very wide berth…

They sound like a menace especially as, limited to 45km/h, they will frustrate any driver who gets stuck behind one on an open road.

New, some aren’t cheap either - well over 10k€ whereas a Dacia Sandero base model is 8k€

Do they need a carte grise and regular CT or are they exempt from that as well?

As with any car, it is ‘obligatoire’ to have insurance to drive a Sans Permis. The premiums are high for people who drive them after having lost their licence which might explain why some of them don’t insure them.

I had heard they were called "sans permis ", I’ve always known them as shit boxes.

They are restricted to 2 people but I have the local roma driving around in them 3 up :zipper_mouth_face:

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@anon88169868 “They sound like a menace…”

There are lots of Sans Permis vehicles in this part of rural France (Basse Normandie) and I must politely protest at the use of the term menace to describe them, as they are not any threat (which ‘menace’ means) to other road users, although they may ‘frustrate’ drivers with no tolerance or patience, and little heed of road safety.

They are clearly of most value to some older people who need to get about on essential errands but feel more secure in a low-powered, slower-moving vehicle that advertises it’s vulnerability and that of its driver to others, as does a scooter, a moto, or a bicycle.

Impatience with and intolerance of older people is on the increase in our fractious and irritable world, and feeling vexed for having to slow down for a few minutes to give way to a slower vehicle on a narrow road is a sign of emotional immaturity, and thus to be deplored IMO.

Elderly curmudgeon and tolerant, courteous and considerate driver for 62 years.


Morning Peter…

Around here… SP drivers are definitely not mainly the elderly… so let’s not allow this discussion to turn into an “age” thing…

“they sound like a menace” is just what it does sound like… IMO… “they” being the SP vehicle… :slightly_smiling_face:

Many towns have a 45kh/30kh restriction… which makes these little machines ideal… however, as is its right… the SP goes much further afield and that is a very different matter.

A Sans Permis vehicle forces all traffic following it… to go at -45kh even on “national speed limit” roads without (it would seem) allowing the legal option to overtake, by crossing the white lines (in safe circumstances) that one gets when behind slow-moving agricultural vehicles etc.

Thus, the line of slow-moving traffic gets longer and , understandably folk do get stressed…

Speaking from experience… I hate to be behind the SP as it struggles to go up hill… dropping to around 30kh or less… and forcing everyone else to do the same… lorries, cars, whatever…

For a nano-second, I cannot find it in myself to blame the motorbike that blazes past all of us… crossing double white lines… on the wrong side of the road in a moment of ***kh glory… :relaxed::relaxed::upside_down_face:

If someone can find if there is a Law which allows other road users to cross white lines etc… when following an SP… that would be most useful… and then all of France will breathe a sigh of relief (ok… slight exaggeration…maybe … :wink:)


I’ve found this greatly depends - there are a few of them around here in the village, driven by what one could call elderly people (and one younger disabled gentleman) and I can see that it allows them a fair bit of freedom they wouldn’t have had otherwise. They’re also smart enough to take the back roads to go do their thing.

Then there’s the local s-stain who has been nicked so often for driving after having too much tipple that he’s lost his license, and his car (by way of an unfortunate incident where a tree just jumped out at him, honestly) who’s gotten one of these SP things. He basically drives it like he’s alone on the planet and doesn’t give a flying toss as to whether or not he’s following the road rules. Him, I will pass at the first safe opportunity to do so even if it’s across white lines, because the risk of being stuck behind him is far higher than that. Him I would classify as a menace.

And while I’m not elderly, I have curmudgeonly traits. Can’t say I’m entirely courteous and considerate, you tend to lose that after 8 years of driving yourself in SE Asia, but I do give the first group of people I mentioned all the time they need when I encounter them.

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Quite a few here in Burgundy, they are driven by assorts Mrs Wozza has one to get about she hasn’t a license but has passed the french highway code & I taught her to drive. Her cars cruising speed is around the 55km . I think they are fun.


We call them ‘the car of shame’ but actually a lot of young people drive them if they haven’t yet passed their driving test. Dryer than a scooter when raining and can have a friend with them. It’s so expensive to take your driving test in France, this is one of the reasons.

I can see the appeal and the logic but, surely, there is a reason that most nations have a driving test. Even if some of them are not terribly arduous.

People born after 1988 have to pass a test!
La voiture sans permis , ou voiturette, est un véhicule particulier considéré comme un quadricycle léger. Elle permet de conduire sans permis B mais depuis 2013, les personnes nées après 1988 doivent obligatoirement avoir le permis AM pour pouvoir être au volant d’une voiture sans permis. En revanche, les personnes nées antérieurement à cette date peuvent librement conduire une voiturette.

Le permis AM est une version renforcée du Brevet de Sécurité Routière (BSR). Il peut être passé dès 14 ans mais l’individu n’est autorisé à conduire une voiture sans permis qu’à partir de 16 ans.

Les voitures sans permis sont soumises à quelques contraintes : elles ne permettent pas d’excéder 45 km/h ni de rouler sur autoroute.

A noter: Les voitures sont permis ont généralement 2 places. Il existe des voiturettes à 4 places qui nécessitent le permis B1 pour pouvoir être conduites.

Une alternative au retrait de permis

La voiture sans permis représente, avec le permis blanc, une alternative motorisée au retrait de permis. En effet, les personnes nées antérieurement à 1988 peuvent librement conduire une voiturette tandis que les autres individus n’ont besoin que du permis AM.

Très prisées par les adolescents, les voitures sans permis attirent aussi toutes les couches de la population et notamment les conducteurs ayant reçu la lettre 48SI, sous le coup d’une invalidation de permis, ou d’une autre forme de retrait.

Interdiction totale de conduire

A moins que l’interdiction de conduire tout véhicule à moteur ait été spécifiée par le juge, les conducteurs en suspension de permis, en annulation de permis - ayant reçu la lettre 7 - ou en suspension, gardent le droit de conduire une voiture sans permis.

Si tel n’est pas le cas, l’individu n’est plus autorisé à conduire quelconque véhicule à moteur –voiturettes, scooters, cyclomoteurs etc. – et devra donc s’en tenir au covoiturage , transports en commun ou vélo.

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Aixam have this on their web site which refers to a light quadricycle (a heavy quadricycle is a 4 seat version & has different licence requirements) -

End-of-life regulation 2002/24 / EC New Regulation 168/2013 / EU
Category L6e L6eBP
Maximum speed 45 km / h 45 km / h
Maximum power 4 kW (5.4hp) 6kW (8.15hp)
Empty mass 350kg (without fuel, without accessories) 425kg (with fuel)

In summary :

  • Access to driving a light motor quadricycle is set at 14 years of age. More information on driving for young people on our website my first car https://goo.gl/YoxVLF

  • The BSR becomes the AM license. It includes a moped option and a lightweight quadricycle option. The AM Moped option allows the driving of light quadricycles.

  • Persons born until 31 December 1987 inclusive do not need BSR (Road Safety Certificate), nor a driving license to drive with a car without a license on French territory.

  • Persons born after December 31, 1987 must hold the BSR issued until January 18, 2013, or the AM license (since January 19, 2013).

  • People holding a valid motorcycle or car driving license, can drive a light quadricycle.

A CT is not required but insurance IS compulsory.

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Interesting stuff, @anon90504988

Can we overtake them, crossing double white lines ?? (when safe to do so, of course)…

Has anyone noticed how driving in France has it’s own interpretation of the rules - the first and most important rule is Don’t get caught breaking any of them. After that anything goes. As for crossing a solid white line to overtake any vehicle that may be moving too slowly for the overtaker’s liking is ‘de rigueur’ in this part of the world as is overtaking the overtaker, a particularly breathtaking manoeuvre especially when performed at speed.

Most SP folk hereabouts are elderly but there are a couple of exceptions, one being our local Medecin who lost his licence due to overindulgence during the Chase hivernale de palombe.

You must have insurance to drive a sans permis. I had been driving on a California license, in France, for 5 years when out of the blue my insurance, without warning, cancelled me for failure to procure a French driving permit. No one would insure me without a French license. I had to rent and drive one of those miserable machines for 6 months while I went through the process of acquiring a permise de conduire. The experience is much like transporting oneself on a riding mower with a roof and windows. Knowing the aggravation of following one of these, I spent a lot of time serre a droit into the bike lanes to allow real cars to pass.


Speaking as a militant cyclist :wink:
Somewhere in the UK highway code, “slow” means under 10mph when it comes to crossing the line …

:crazy_face: yes, that may well be in the UK … but I live in France… :wink:

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I know, but perhaps there’s a similar rule in the French equivalent :slight_smile: