Fine dropped for pensioner caught ‘illegally’ resting at Düsseldorf bus stop

Fine dropped for pensioner caught 'illegally' resting at Düsseldorf bus stop
Photo: DPA
Earlier this month in Düsseldorf, an 86-year-old man was fined for resting at a bus stop. But authorities have decided to drop the fine after discovering that the man suffers from dementia.

On November 14th, the unnamed pensioner was given a fine of €35 by an employee of Düsseldorf's public order office for using a bus stop bench near the main station as a resting place, RP-Online reports.

The story soon attracted media attention and the public order office was prompted to investigate, eventually dropping the fine altogether.

An acquaintance of the man posted the accompanying letter on Facebook, which said that the fine had been given because the man, who suffers from heart disease as well as dementia, had rested at the bus stop while walking with his dog. 

Although the post was later deleted, the letter the man received was reposted on Twitter and shows that he sat down on the bench on Friedrich-Ebert Straße near the main station for just 8 minutes.

“Have you gone insane!” writes Twitter user HansDampf, “85-year-old dementia sufferer has to pay €35 because he sat on the bus stop bench at the main station to rest for '8 minutes'!” 

Using a bus stop for anything other than waiting for a bus is a violation of paragraph three of Düsseldorf's road code, which states that using public transport facilities for anything other than their official purpose is a fineable offence. 

This section of the code is in place to prevent bus stops from becoming drinking sites and to stop homeless people setting up camp in them, which would otherwise prevent the public from using them for their intended purpose. 

Although the 86-year-old pensioner was neither drinking nor homeless, the state employee still chose to impose the fine.

“You used the system of public transport at the aforementioned location not according to its purpose and used it as a resting place,” the accompanying letter stated in curt, official German, the RP-Online reports.

In a statement on Monday, the city acknowledged the mistake and expressed regret over the proceedings. 

“Adequate communication would've certainly remedied the situation as soon as it arose,” said Micheal Zimmerman, head of public order office, in the statement.

“Such a decision must take into account the age of the person concerned as well as the lack of seats apart from public transport facilities in the vicinity of the station, as at this age to 'sit down' and take a break is natural,” Zimmerman added. 

“The 86-year-old pensioner will not have to pay the fine,” the city of Düsseldorf confirmed in a tweet on Monday.

Given the circumstances, the public order office has terminated all proceedings against the senior and, in addition to not having to pay the fine, is no longer required to provide a written statement on the incident.

With DPA.