German Traffic Violations and Fines – 2020 Guide
Last updated: 01 June 2020 / by Jack Harper
Germany loves its cars. Having been a key player in the game of automation for many years, it has carefully cultivated a car-culture that blends style and expression with compliance with the rules.
Traffic laws in Germany are tight but rational, with most people following them to the letter. That said, even Germans are not immune to vehicular rule-breaking from time to time, accidental or otherwise.
It certainly helps to know what you are dealing with if you are new to driving in a foreign country. In this article, we will provide a list of traffic fines in Germany and answer some commonly asked questions.
Speed Limits on German Roads
Most German drivers believe they are extremely capable behind the wheel of a car.
It is true that Germany does not have a reputation for being a country of reckless and dangerous drivers. Most visitors to Germany can adapt to driving on German roads without a significant culture shock or feeling at risk. Nevertheless, there are more traffic deaths in Germany than some other European countries, such as the UK or the Netherlands.
Germany is famous for taking a pioneering approach on its motorways, the autobahn. Unlike elsewhere, there is no official speed limit. If you come from a country which has tight speed limits in place everywhere, this concept can be quite shocking.
However, it is important to understand that Germany has high expectations of its drivers, including the autobahn. Not having a defined speed limit does not mean motorists can drive however they choose. German traffic police expect drivers to respond appropriately to the weather conditions and to ensure their conduct is always safe.
There is a recommended speed limit of 130 km/h on the autobahns, but this is only advisory. Traffic police will look at all the factors, including the weather, visibility and other road users to decide whether your driving is acceptable. There also may be times when a restricted speed limit is introduced for certain sections of the motorway.
Aside from the autobahns, Germany has speed limits on all of its roads, just like other countries. It’s only the autobahns that operate a more flexible system. In built-up areas, the maximum speed is 50km/h which increases to 100 km/h outside these residential zones. You must always be vigilant for signs enforcing a different speed limit. These take precedence over the generic speed limits which are in place everywhere.
German speeding fines and Points in Flensburg
German police can be particularly crafty when it comes to catching speeders. Fixed cameras are placed in difficult to spot areas, with most of them not having warning signs. This is in stark contrast to countries such as the UK or France, where speed camera warning signs are common.
Police will also use unmarked cars with mobile speed cameras, particularly in residential areas. The rate at which they use this strategy is seemingly quite random, so you can easily be caught out.
The penalty system in Germany is referred to colloquially as “Punkte in Flensburg” (Points in Flensburg). This derives from the fact that the Federal Motor Transport Authority is based in Flenburg and keeps traffic records there.
The current system was introduced in 2014 and is based on just eight points for a license. This replaced the previous 18-point system which had been used since 1974.
Having a system of just eight points means that drivers only must accumulate a low tally of points before losing their license. If you get eight or more points on your license, you will lose it. To regain your license, you must wait for the suspension to pass and then reapply. Your license will not be reinstated unless you pass a medical psychological assessment.
In 2018, 92,667 drivers lost their licenses completely and 464,179 who were subject to a shorter ban or suspension. As there are approximately 45 million registered car owners in Germany, the number of driving bans is relatively low.
This is because the police operate a penalty system where not every misdemeanor results in points. Many traffic offenses carry fines but no penalty points. This means that you only risk losing your license for more serious traffic offenses, rather than just a string of minor errors.
German speeding fines in town:
Within City Limits
|Up to 10 km/h||€ 30|
|11-15 km/h||€ 50|
|16-20 km/h||€ 70|
|21-25 km/h||€ 80||1||1 month|
|26-30 km/h||€ 100||1||1 month|
|31-40 km/h||€ 160||1||1 month|
|41-50 km/h||€ 200||2||2 months|
|51-60 km/h||€ 280||2||2 months|
|61-70 km/h||€ 480||2||3 months|
|Over 70 km/h||€ 680||2||3 months|
German speeding fines out of town:
Outside City Limits
|Up to 10 km/h||€ 30|
|11-15 km/h||€ 50|
|16-20 km/h||€ 70|
|21-25 km/h||€ 90||1|
|26-30 km/h||€ 120||1||1 month|
|31-40 km/h||€ 160||1||1 month|
|41-50 km/h||€ 200||2||1 month|
|51-60 km/h||€ 280||2||2 months|
|61-70 km/h||€ 480||2||2 months|
|Over 70 km/h||€ 680||2||3 months|
Most parking fines in Germany are handled by the Ordnungsamt, a second-tier police force who work for the city or municipality. They don’t have the power to make arrests, but they can hand out fines, the revenue of which is collected by the Road Traffic Department (Strassenverkehrsamt).
Minor offenses, such as parking in dedicated zones without tickets or permits, will incur small fines of around €10. Other minor offenses include not leaving enough space when parking and parking in front of a driveway.
Many parking offences are simply common sense, such as not blocking anyone in or parking in a prohibited zone. Some laws are more specific to Germany which new arrivals to the country may be unaware of. Examples of this include parking over a manhole cover or parking within eight meters of a crossroads if there is a cycle path nearby. Without a cycle path, you need only leave five meters of space.
More severe parking offenses include blocking access for emergency vehicles by parking on a narrow street, or parking on the Autobahn (highway). These offenses can land you both a fine of up to €70 and a point on your license.
To make sure you are parking in the right area, look for a blue sign which displays a large, white “P”. This means you can pay but you may still need to buy a ticket, such as pay and display.
Drink and Drug Driving
All drivers know about the perils of drink-driving and the potential consequences of being caught in their home country. Like much of Europe, Germany takes drink-driving seriously and has tough laws in place.
Germany’s drink-driving laws are on a par with other countries such as France, the Netherlands and Spain, and you won’t get let off lightly, if caught. Make no mistake: if you are caught drink-driving in Germany, the fine will be steep and you could even face a ban.
If you’re coming from countries such as the UK or the US, you will find the German alcohol limits for driving much stricter than at home. You can only have one small beer or else risk being over the limit. And if you’re under the age of 21, the limit is zero! German law differentiates between younger and more experienced drivers. If you are below 21 or have had your license for less than two years, you are not permitted to have any alcohol before driving.
If you are older than 21 or have had a license for longer than two years, it is possible to drink a small amount of alcohol and drive, should you really want to. The limit is set at a strict 0.5 and there is no wriggle room on this. If you are caught drink-driving and have a result which is between 0.5 and 1.09 blood alcohol per milliliter, there will be a fine. You will not be let off because you did not know the German law, or because your driving was unaffected. Rules are strictly enforced each time.
The fine for testing between 0.5 and 1.09 depends on whether it is your first offence. For an initial drink-driving offence, the fine is €500. This increases to €1000 and then €1500 on second and third offences. You will also be banned for one month (minimum) and receive six points on your license.
Although these fines are steep, you will only be able to pay these sums if there is no evidence of dangerous driving. If you cause any damage, have an accident or are seen driving without due care, the penalties will be much harsher. A German court will typically handle these cases; you will not be able to just pay a fine and walk away.
Any case of drink-driving where the blood alcohol is 1.10 or higher will automatically result in a six month ban from driving and a fine of at least €500. As the alcohol blood level, you are caught with rises, so do the consequences. At 0.16 you will have to pass a Medical Psychological Assessment after your six months ban before you can drive again. The fines also rise incrementally with higher blood alcohol levels.
Driving while using drugs
German law takes an equally dim view of being under the influence of drugs while driving too. Although it is legal to use marijuana in some parts of Europe, this isn’t the case in Germany. Driving while under the influence of marijuana is an offense.
The German Federal Narcotics Act allows for up to five years in prison for the possession of illegal drugs. If there are only small amounts discovered for personal use, law officials can use their discretion. Law officials may still prosecute you for small amounts, depending on your personal history, the type of drug and whether others are involved. The law typically considers a small amount of marijuana as no more than 6-10g.
German law does not specify precise limits for drug-driving, but the level of impairment is critical. The fine can be up to €3000 for the traffic violation of driving under the influence; any criminal penalty would be extra. Jail for drug-driving in Germany is unlikely unless there was a serious accident or injury. You can expect to lose your license for 1-3 months, in most cases.
Cyclists and Pedestrians
If you are a cyclist or a pedestrian, you also need to obey the rules of the road. Most people only think about fines and penalties relating to motor vehicles, but all road users need to be safe and considerate of others.
It’s fair to say there are not as many traffic laws which apply to cyclists or pedestrians, but they aren’t totally exempt. Road-users operating non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians can also receive fines and penalty notices.
The main offences are:
Crossing the road during a red light
Pedestrians guilty of this offence must pay a €5 fine. Cyclists must say €60 and receive 1 point on their license.
Incorrect lighting on your bike
If you do not have the proper lighting on your bike, you will have to fork out a fine of up to €25.
Drunk cycling or reckless cycling
As a road user, you must always be capable and competent , even if you are not in charge of a motorized vehicle. If you cycle with a blood alcohol level of more than 1.6, you will receive three points on your license and a potential criminal charge.
If you have a blood alcohol level of more than 0.3 but also are cycling in a dangerous, careless or reckless manner, you will also receive three penalty points and may be prosecuted.
Causing an incident may not lead to charges or fines under the traffic laws, but it can lead to liability claims. That’s why it is highly recommended cyclists to have private liability insurance. This type of insurance protects against 3rd party claims.
There are many other traffic fines in Germany which apply if you break the rules. These are very carefully designed to reflect the severity of the misdemeanor, so you’re not punished harshly for a minor offence.
Tailgating – Tailgating is taken very seriously in Germany, with fines of up to €400 if you get too close to the vehicle in front at high speeds. The minimum fine for tailgating – when traveling at an inadequate distance from the vehicle in front going less than 80km/h – is €25. More severe offenses can also incur a license suspension of up to three months.
- Turning, intersection and lane change violations – Proper signaling, awareness, and responsible turning are monitored very carefully, especially in busy metropolitan areas. A simple violation of turning or changing lanes without proper signaling will incur a fine of €10. More severe violations, such as failing to yield the proper right of way and causing damages, as a result, leads to fines of up to €85 and a point on your license.
- Autobahn and highways – Parking on an Autobahn will incur a fine of €70 as well as two points on your license. For something as serious as driving in the wrong direction, the fine is €200, with an additional two-point penalty and one-month license suspension.
Railroad crossing violations – The risks of bending the rules at railroad crossings are obvious, but the hefty fines should provide extra motivation to keep it cautious. Vehicular crossing while the gate is closed incurs a whopping €700 fine, as well as a two-point penalty and a three-month license suspension. Failure to yield to warning lights while at a crossing will result in a €240 fine, one point, and one-month suspension.
Hit and run – Leaving the scene of an accident prematurely will result in three points on the license. If the collision results in injury or death, then the violator also faces a possible fine, license suspension, and even jail time.
Vehicle deficiencies – It’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure that things are working as they should, with fines being awarded for particular signs of neglect. If a license plate is visibly obstructed, there is a significant fine of €65.
If tire treads don’t meet minimum requirements, then the fine is €60, plus a point on the license. Using any vehicle or trailer that has unsafe levels of deficiency can incur fines of up to €90.
Pedestrian crosswalk violations – Failure to yield to a pedestrian or to violate crosswalk restrictions will incur a fine of €80, plus a point on the license.
Seatbelt violations – There are few things more important than using a seatbelt when it comes to driving. In Germany, the minimum fine for a seatbelt violation (failing to fasten seatbelt) is €30. The fines more than double when there are children involved, with a €70 fine and one point being incurred if more than one child is not secured at all.
Mobile phone violations – As the problem of cell phone usage while driving has escalated in recent years, so too have the fines associated with it. Getting caught using your phone while driving can land you a point on your license and a fine of at least €100, with it being a lot higher if any accidents are caused.
Traffic light violations – The minimum fine for running a red light – when there are no endangerments or damages – is €90 plus a point on the license. The fines are significantly higher when consequences occur as a result of running the light. Running an ‘old’ red light (longer than 1 second) that results in damages will incur a €360 fine, two points on the license, and a one-month suspension.
Illegal, improper, or unsafe passing – In Germany, any overtaking must be done on the left. Passing on the right within city limits carries a fine of €30. Unsafe passing in violation of road signs and lane markings (with damages) incurs a €300 fine, two points, and one-month suspension. You can even be fined €80 for passing a vehicle too slowly.
Right of way – Fines regarding the right of way are more severe when there are pedestrians involved. Approaching a pedestrian crossing too fast when a pedestrian is present, for instance, carries a fine of €80 and a point on the license. Fines can also be incurred for failing to stop at stop signs, approaching priority roads at inappropriate speeds, and hindering other vehicles’ right of way.
Driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs – The heaviest fines in Germany are handed out for driving under the influence. Being caught driving with a blood-alcohol level between 0.5 and 1.09 per milliliter, or failing a drug test, carries a fine of €500 for the first offense, €1000 for the second, and €1500 for the third.
If traffic was endangered, or blood alcohol level reads above 1.1 per milliliter, then fines can be much higher, and variable depending on severity. Driving privileges are revoked immediately, with also the possibility of jail time.
Germany Traffic Fines for Foreigners
The Points in Flenburg system applies to foreign drivers as well as German drivers. If you arrive from overseas, you will be treated in the same way if you violate the traffic rules.
If you return home, you will not necessarily escape punishment. A cross-country system is in place which allows countries to co-operate with each other to ensure fines get paid. Germany belongs to this group of countries who have an agreement to co-operate. The other countries in the group are Netherlands, Austria, Czech Republic, Norway, Cyprus, Spain, Denmark, France, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, and United Kingdom. This means that if you return home and do not pay traffic fines in Germany, you may also face extra costs for enforcement action.
If a foreign driver is suspended or banned from driving in Germany, an entry is made on their license in the same way as a native German driver.
Germany shares information about driving bans and suspensions with driving authorities in other countries. If you are from the EU, Germany will send details of the ban to the driving authority in your home country.
Do not even consider driving in Germany without a license. If the German authorities have suspended or banned you from driving, getting back the wheel of a car again is a criminal offence. If you are caught you could spend up to a year in jail and receive a criminal record.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a way to check if I have a traffic fine?
Unfortunately, there isn’t. Germany has no system in place to check if a vehicle has any impending fines attached to it. It’s probably for the best, as otherwise, anyone could theoretically check if other people have incurred fines, which would be a violation of privacy.
Instead, you will get a letter through the post with all the information you need.
What happens if you get a speeding ticket in Germany?
A letter detailing the fine and how it can be paid will be sent to the registered address of the vehicle. Speeding fines are generally quite small in Germany and considered to be a somewhat regular part of a German driver’s life.
Thus, there’s no need to panic if you commit a minor speeding offense – just pay it promptly and learn from it!
What happens if I don’t pay a German speeding ticket?
You will be sent frequent reminders, with the charges ramping up as more time passes. Paying the fine within two weeks will save a lot of money.
If you continue to ignore the fine, then German authorities can eventually take some pretty serious action. This may involve the seizure of properties and even court summons.
Do I still need to pay a German traffic fine if I live in another country?
Yes. German participates in a cross-country fine co-operation scheme.
Other countries which are also part of this reciprocal agreement include Netherlands, Austria, Czech Republic, Norway, Cyprus, Spain, Denmark, France, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Slovenia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Romania, and United Kingdom. This means even if you leave Germany, the traffic fine will be forwarded to your home address for payment.
How can I pay my German speeding fine?
Speeding fines are usually only payable by bank transfer to the relevant authorities’ bank accounts. The letter outlining your fine will contain detailed instructions on how this transaction can be carried out.
Can you drink while driving in Germany?
The blood-alcohol limit for driving in Germany is 0.5 per millimeter. This is equivalent to two small beers for an average-sized man. Any driver in Germany may be subject to a blood test. It is taken very seriously, with the potential for huge fines, driving bans, and even jail time.
Can I go to Germany with a Driving under the influence (DUI) in my record?
Yes, you can still enter Germany if you have a DUI on your record. Whether or not you will be allowed to drive is dependent on a variety of factors, the information for which you would be better off contacting an embassy.
How many points do you have on your license in Germany?
Once a driver in Germany accumulates four to five points, they will be given a warning. After collecting six to seven points, the driver will have to attend two 90-minute seminars. At eight or more points, the driver’s license is revoked.
Points will remain on the license for 2.5 to 10 years, depending on the severity of the offense. A driver whose license has been revoked must pass a physical and mental status examination (MPU) before they can get it back.
How much over the speed limit are you allowed?
Driving just 3 km/h over the posted speed limit is considered a speeding violation. The amount you are fined depends on how far above the posted speed limit you go (see graph above).
German Autobahns famously have no universal speed limit. Though some of them are equipped with variable speed limits which are dependent on time, traffic, or weather, it is not uncommon for cars to travel up to 200 km/h. However, driving at such speeds may result in liability charges for any damages caused.
Can you get more than one speeding ticket in a day?
Yes, you can receive multiple speeding tickets that were incurred on the same day. However, exceptions may be made if two were given on the same journey in close succession.
Germany’s traffic laws and fines are exacting but fair.
Receiving a small traffic fine is not the end of the world. If you pay it promptly and learn from it for future journeys, they are a quickly resolved issue.
Traffic laws are extensive and intricate, but a bit of common sense and basic knowledge of road law will keep you from receiving those pesky fines.