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DRIVING

What to do if you get a parking ticket in Germany

If you commit a parking offence in Germany, it’s usually best to pay the fine as quickly as possible. But if you disagree with the ticket, you can appeal against it – here’s how.

A Municipal Traffic Police employee enters the license plate number of a parking offender.
A Municipal Traffic Police employee enters the license plate number of a parking offender. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Arne Dedert

Breaches of parking rules are among the most common traffic violations in Germany and are issued for actions such as failing to buy a parking ticket or parking in an unauthorised way.

These can affect both drivers with their own cars and users of car sharing companies, which are especially popular in German cities. 

How do you know if you’ve received a ticket?

If you are accused of a parking offence, you will usually find a white ticket tucked under your windscreen wipers.

The ticket that you receive here is called a Verwarnung (a caution) which is usually between €5 and €55. It is not the official penalty notice, which is more expensive as it includes administrative fees. 

READ ALSO: Driving in Germany: Eight German road signs that confuse foreigners

It’s not possible to appeal against the cautionary ticket because it is merely a warning and an “offer” of paying a lower price to avoid the full penalty amount.

A warning ticket tucked behind a windscreen wiper. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Wüstneck

So, if you know that you’re in the wrong, it’s best to just pay the warning fee immediately, and you usually have seven days to do so. Usually, the ticket has the payment details of the local authority so that you can easily make the payment via your online banking service. Make sure that you include the file or ticket number in the payment transfer details.

However, if you think you have been wrongly accused of a parking violation, it’s not possible to appeal this cautionary ticket.

In this case, you should not pay the warning fee and instead wait for the official Bußgeldbescheid (penalty notice) to arrive by post.

If you decide to go down this route, the amount due will increase, as it becomes a different category of fine. Instead of having to pay a cautionary fine (Verwarnungsgeld) you will now have to pay a penalty fine (Bußgeld) which includes the processing costs from the administrative authority which are passed on to the traffic offender as fees and expenses.

In the case of parking fines, this amounts to an additional €25 and €3.50 in postage costs.

How to appeal

If you decide to appeal against your parking ticket, then you must first wait for your penalty notice to arrive by post, which should follow within three months from the date of the offence.

You then have to send an appeal in writing to the responsible fine office within two weeks. It’s advisable to send the letter via recorded post so that you can prove that you sent the reply before the deadline.

READ ALSO: 10 surprising German laws foreigners need to know

If you miss the deadline, then you can no longer file an appeal.

You can appeal the fine yourself, and there are many templates available online (such as this one) to help you formulate your letter of appeal. Of course, the safest route is to hire a lawyer who specialises in traffic law, though this can be very costly unless you have traffic law insurance.

Bear in mind that, without concrete proof of your innocence (such as a photo), your chances of a successful appeal will be limited. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Germany’s tougher driving fines

The authority will then examine your letter and then decide whether or not to withdraw the fine. If they find that the objection is justified, the fine will be withdrawn. Otherwise, your documents will be forwarded to the public prosecutor’s office, which may submit them to the district court.

What about car sharing?

Users of car-sharing companies should be particularly careful about committing parking offences. If you end the car rental in a way that incurs a parking violation ticket and do not collect the cautionary ticket yourself from the vehicle yourself, the car rental company will have to process your details and will charge a processing fee. These fees vary depending on the car sharing provider and can be between €5 and €20.

Vocabulary

Parking ticket – (das) Knöllchen (colloquial)

To refute/argue against – widersprechen

Appeal – (der) Einspruch

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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For members

DRIVING

EXPLAINED: The rules for riding an e-scooter in Germany

The popularity of electric scooters in Germany has exploded in the last few years, but many people still aren't sure what the rules for driving them are. We break them down.

EXPLAINED: The rules for riding an e-scooter in Germany

Germany is currently the world’s second-largest market for e-scooter rental after the USA, which might explain why you have the feeling that you’re seeing the electric vehicles everywhere these days, at least in cities. 

According to a recent survey by ADAC,15 percent of people in Germany aged 16 and over regularly use e-scooters. Of these, 45 percent own their own scooter, while 55 percent rent the vehicles from sharing services.

Here are the rules for driving an e-scooter that you need to know.

Who can drive an e-scooter?

Anyone over the age of 14 can ride an electric scooter and you don’t need to have a driving license to use one. However, many of the traffic rules for motorists also apply to e-scooter riders, and misbehaving on a scooter could end up costing you points on your driving license or even getting you a driving ban.

READ ALSO: Driving in Germany: Eight German road signs that confuse foreigners

Can more than one person ride an e-scooter?

No. Only one person is allowed to ride a scooter and if you are caught riding in two, you will get a €10 fine.

Although it might be fun, riding side by side on two scooters is also not allowed and can be punished with a fine of between €15 and €30. Instead, you and your friends have to ride in single file.

Where can you ride an e-scooter?

E-scooters are principally allowed on bike paths and in bike lanes and you can only drive them on the road if there is no bike lane available. If you do drive on the road, you must keep as far to the right as possible and you are not allowed to ride in bus lanes.

It’s also forbidden to ride an e-scooter on the motorway – doing so will get you a €20 fine. 

Riding an e-scooter on the pavement, in pedestrian-only zones, or in one-way streets against the direction of traffic is also not allowed and can land you a fine of between €15 and €30.

However, e-scooters are allowed on one-way or no-entry roads which have a “cyclists free” sign.

A no-entry sign with a “cyclists free” sign underneath. This sign also applies to e-scooters. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Jens Kalaene

Which traffic light rules apply to electric scooters?

E-scooter riders have to abide by traffic lights just like motorists, and the fine for ignoring a red light on an e-scooter is between €60 and €180.

However, if there is also a traffic light for bicycles, e-scooter riders can follow this one instead.

Is there an alcohol limit for electric scooters?

Yes, the same alcohol limits for motorists apply to electric scooter riders.

This means that anyone who drives with a blood alcohol level of between 0.5 to 1.09 is liable for a fine of €500, a 1-month driving ban and 2 points on their driving license.

It’s a criminal offence to ride an electric scooter with a blood alcohol concentration of at more than 1.1, as is causing an accident with a blood alcohol level of more than 0.3.

Under 21s must be completely alcohol free – with a blood alcohol level of 0.0 – to ride an e-scooter.

Where can e-scooters be parked?

E-scooters can be parked at the roadside, on the pavement and in pedestrian zones with designated e-scooter parking areas. However, e-scooters must be parked in such a way that they don’t obstruct or endanger pedestrians or other road users. 

Parked e-scooters in Stuttgart. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Schmidt

Which rules are there for e-scooter owners?

If you’ve upgraded from renting to owning your own scooter, there are certain requirements you have to be aware of. 

Firstly, it’s mandatory to have liability insurance and a special sticker (similar to a license plate) stuck to the scooter to show that it is insured.

READ ALSO: German words you need to know: Haftpflichtversicherung

E-scooter owners also have to make sure that they have two independently working brakes and lights. 

Which other rules should I be aware of?

As with driving a car or cycling, you are not allowed to use your mobile phone while riding an e-scooter (which is pretty challenging anyway). If you’re caught doing so, you’ll get a €100 fine and a point on your driving license. 

It’s not mandatory to wear a helmet when riding an e-scooter, though it is recommended. 

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