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Driving in Germany: What are the offences that can cost you points on your licence?

Driving in Germany: What are the offences that can cost you points on your licence?
Source: ZB
In this article we take a look at the road-based misdemeanours which can cost you a lot of money and/or points on your licence.

Punkte in Flensburg

You may have heard German people talking about “Punkte in Flensburg” (points in Flensburg) and wondered what and where on earth Flensburg is.

The northern city is the home of the Federal Motor Transport Authority and of the nationwide database of motoring infractions. 

READ ALSO: 'Not always polite but they follow the rules': The verdict on German drivers

The current points system is used for driving violations which endanger road safety which, relative to the severity of the offence, are punishable with 1, 2 or 3 points. Once you get to 8 you can say Tschüss to your driving license.

However, points for individual violations expire automatically, regardless of new entries, with different expiry periods depending on the seriousness of the violation:

  • 1 point lasts 2.5 years
  • 2 points lasts 5 years
  • 3 points lasts 10 years

Speeding

Germany is known for having speed-limit free Autobahns, but, with around 4.600 Blitzer (speed cameras) throughout the country, speeding is still taken seriously as a driving offence.

READ ALSO: Is Germany set for another showdown on Autobahn speed limits?

Not every German road will be clearly signposted with the speed limit, and there are certain rules which drivers are expected to know. On Landstraße (country roads), for example, the speed limit is 100km/h for cars and 80km/h for lorries and cars with trailers under 7.5 tonnes.

If you are exiting the Autobahn or coming to the end of a country road and see a yellow Ortseingangschild (town name sign), make sure you slow down to 50km/h, the general speed limit within built up areas.

Beware of the Blitzer. Source: DPA

If you are entering a 30km/h zone, make sure to be cautious at every junction, as you are obliged to follow the Rechts vor Links (right before left) rule and give way to traffic – including bicycles – coming from the right.

The level of fine you will have to pay for a speeding offence is dependent on how far over the speed limit you were driving and whether you were within or outside a built-up area. In general, you will not get a point on your license unless you have gone 21km/h over the speed limit. For a full breakdown of speeding fines, see here.

In Germany you can also be fined for driving too slowly. If you drive so slowly without good reason that you are hindering the smooth flow of traffic, you may be subject to a €20 fine.

Drinking

Like most other European countries, the blood alcohol content limit in Germany is 0.5g/l, which is roughly equivalent to one glass of wine or one beer, depending on BMI.

If you are caught driving over the limit you can expect a hefty fine of at least €500 and a driving ban starting at one month. The fine, length of ban and number of points increase with higher blood alcohol levels or with repetition of the offence.

READ ALSO: Drunk driving cases plummet after fines hiked

Drunkenness is not only punishable behind the wheel, but if you are caught riding your bike in a heavily intoxicated state (over 1,6g/l) you can get 3 points on your driving license, a fine and be forced to undertake a medical-psychological assessment (MPU).

German parking signs can be confusing. Source: DPA

Parking

Once you have arrived at your destination you may think you are out of the danger zone of incurring fines or points. But you still need to be careful, as parking or stopping in a prohibited way can be a costly business.  

In big cities, paid or restricted parking zones are common and should always be signposted. But if you don’t know what the signs mean, you can be in trouble, as ignorance is not an excuse. For a helpful explanation of all of the parking signs to look out for, see here.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about changes to German driving laws in 2020

Most stopping or parking fines are between €10 and €30 and include common offences such as stopping in restricted spaces, in the zweite Reihe (second row) and up to five meters before or after a junction.

However, if you park in such a way that you are blocking an entrance or exit, your car can be abgeschleppt (towed away) which can cost up to €200.

A full list of parking infractions and their related costs can be found here.

Rechtsfahrgebot

The Rechtsfahrgebot is a special rule laid down in Paragraph 2, of the Road Traffic Act, which states that traffic should keep as far to the right as possible, in order to maintain the steady flow of traffic and to help avoid accidents.

The right-hand drive requirement generally also applies to three- or multi-lane motorways and motorists may only deviate from this if the traffic density justifies it, meaning you can drive through the middle lane continuously if there are vehicles on the right of it every now and then. But unjustified continuous driving in the left or middle lane can land you an €80 fine and 1 point in Flensburg.

Special Rules for beginners

If you pass your driving test in Germany, the first two years act as Probezeit (probation period), during which punishments are harsher and you can be at risk of being sent back to driving school, having the probation period extended or losing your license.

The Probezeit rule was introduced in 1986 as a way to help combat the high number of accidents involving 18 to 25 year olds.  


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