Judge jails wrong-way crash driver indefinitely

Judge jails wrong-way crash driver indefinitely
Photo: DPA

A 35-year-old man who deliberately drove the wrong way down a south German motorway and crashed head-on into a car, killing one person has been jailed for 12 years but may be held indefinitely under preventative detention rules.

The man, who has serious psychiatric problems, and an associated criminal history, told the court in Tübingen he had felt completely disoriented on April 10 last year and was scared he was being chased by Hells Angels before he suddenly realised he was driving the wrong way down the road.

Travelling at 150 kilometres an hour on the motorway between Reutlingen and Stuttgart, he smashed into a car carrying a 43-year-old man, his wife and their 11-year-old daughter. The man was killed instantly; his wife and daughter were left seriously injured.

The 35-year-old, who was himself also injured in the crash, denied wanting to kill himself, but a court expert convinced the judge that he was scared his girlfriend was going to leave him, and that he wanted to die – and accepted the risk of killing other people by choosing to do it this way.

Sentencing him to 12 years, with a preventative detention ruling which means he would be held for psychiatric treatment even after he completes his sentence, the judge said, “This is certainly a harsh verdict from your perspective. But you have incurred much guilt.”

He said the family he hit in the car had been destroyed by the accident. A psychiatric expert witness said it was doubtful that the man could ever be made healthy enough to be released.

There are around 1,700 incidents of wrong-way driving each year, many of which result in crashes, according to government figures.

Much of the time they are due to disoriented and confused drivers making mistakes – or those who have missed an exit deciding to risk simply deciding to turn around to try to save time.

The Local/DPA/mdm

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

A driver in Passau has been hit with a €5,000 fine because he was caught by traffic police giving the middle finger.

Driver in Bavaria gets €5,000 fine for giving the finger to speed camera

The district court of Passau sentenced the 53-year-old motorist to the fine after he was caught making the rude gesture in the direction of the speedometer last August on the A3 near the Donautal Ost service area, reported German media. 

The man was not caught speeding, however. According to traffic police who were in the speed camera vehicle at the time, another driver who had overtaken the 53-year-old was over the speed limit. 

When analysing the photo, the officers discovered the slower driver’s middle finger gesture and filed a criminal complaint.

The driver initially filed an objection against a penalty order, and the case dragged on for several months. However, he then accepted the complaint. He was sentenced to 50 ‘unit fines’ of €100 on two counts of insulting behaviour, amounting to €5,000.

READ ALSO: The German rules of the road that are hard to get your head around

In a letter to police, the man said he regretted the incident and apologised. 

Police said it was “not a petty offence”, and that the sentence could have been “even more drastic”.

People who give insults while driving can face a prison sentences of up to a year.

“Depending on the nature and manner of the incident or in the case of persons with a previous conviction, even a custodial sentence without parole may be considered for an insult,” police in Passau said. 

What does the law say?

Showing the middle finger to another road user in road traffic is an offence in Germany under Section 185 of the Criminal Code (StGB). It’s punishable by a prison sentence of up to one year or a fine.

People can file a complaint if someone shows them the middle finger in road traffic, but it usually only has a chance of success if witnesses can prove that it happened.

As well as the middle finger, it can also be an offence to verbally insult someone. 

READ ALSO: The German road signs that confuse foreigners