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Traffic violations as a tourist in Germany: These are the consequences

Anyone entering Germany with a Schengen visa has the opportunity to visit all 26 states of the Schengen area and get to know the countries and their cultures with this visa.

Basically, tourists in the Schengen area or in Germany have to adhere to the same rules as locals. One aspect that is often a sticking point for foreigners, especially in Germany, is driving a car in Germany. After all, Germany is one of the very few countries in the world where there is no speed limit on motorways. If you are visiting from another country and trying your hand at Germany's streets, you can easily get cocky and quickly depress the gas pedal of the rental car too low.

Speed ​​cameras and police checks do not stop at tourists either. Anyone who is flashed as a foreigner in Germany must generally expect to receive a fine from the authorities. For this, the vehicle owners are determined by the rental company, to whom the fine is then sent - at least that's the theory. In any case, it must be clearly established who exactly committed the administrative offense, otherwise no fine can be imposed.

Many traffic offenses committed by tourists are not punished

In the case of vehicles with foreign registration, it is often difficult for the authorities in Germany to find out the driver of the vehicle, as a result of which more than 2 million speeding violations are not penalized every year. The determination of the person who committed the traffic violation is too time-consuming and is usually not in relation to the monetary claim. Anyone who, as a tourist with a Schengen visa, is withdrawn from circulation directly by the police should be able to show their passport with the valid visa. A possible fine is due immediately in this case.

Since most of the offenses are recorded by stationary speed cameras, speeding offenders from countries outside the EU in particular have little to fear. By the time their parking tickets are on the table with the authorities, they have mostly left the country long ago and are then difficult to trace back.

However, that does not mean that tourists and foreigners with a Schengen visa in Germany can behave as they want and disregard traffic regulations. After all, everyone who drives a car bears a great deal of responsibility and should not be driving too fast just out of consideration for other road users. In addition, there are always traffic controls at which police officers stop speeding offenders and ask them to pay directly. Depending on how much too fast someone drove, this can become expensive very quickly.

What applies to tourists who drive under the influence of alcohol?

The topic of drink-driving is also something that tourists arriving on a Schengen visa should find out about beforehand. After all, different alcohol limits apply in every country and as a guest you have to adhere to the rules like everyone else. Otherwise, there may be severe penalties - but they are not always enforced for foreigners who do not come from the Schengen area.

Anyone caught with too much alcohol behind the wheel must expect to pay a fine and have to surrender their driver's license. The withdrawal of the driving license then only applies to Germany and as soon as the tourist is back in his home country, he can usually re-apply for his driving license there and at least continue driving as normal there. This regulation does not apply within the EU and driving bans can also be issued across countries, but anyone who comes to Germany with a Schengen visa is not an EU citizen, which is why this regulation does not apply.

Many countries outside the Schengen area have looser traffic regulations than Germany and often issue a new driver's license despite wrongdoing abroad. However, the case is different from country to country and depends on the local authorities and laws, which those affected have to find out about in an emergency.

Germans have to go to the MPU, foreigners almost never

Germans who, because of high alcohol levels behind the wheel or several driving violations (e.g. driving too fast several times), collect points in the traffic offender's file in Flensburg and then exceed a certain minimum value (the limit is 8 points), must go to the MPU (medical-psychological Investigation). This is not only expensive for the person concerned, but above all very stressful, which is why it should be avoided at all to get to this point.

Since Germany is a transit country through which many motorists from neighboring countries pass, there is always criticism that traffic offenders from other countries are usually not persecuted beyond the borders. In 2015, a total of 24% of all committed and registered road traffic offenses were committed by foreigners. In theory, the driver's license is removed from foreigners and an MPU is ordered, but this usually does not occur and the driver's license is simply applied for again in the non-European home country.

Foreign nationals with a Schengen visa who are not registered in Germany therefore do not have to worry about having to go to the MPU. However, if a tourist happens to have an accident under the influence of alcohol or at too high a speed, causes property damage or - even worse - injures or even kills people, he must expect prosecution from which he will not be able to escape anytime soon.

The traffic rules should therefore be strictly observed, otherwise human lives are quickly in danger. Fines are still due at traffic controls and the driver's license can be withdrawn, at least for the German area, so that at least as long as the stay in the Schengen area lasts, there is no longer a valid driver's license. Depending on the reason for your visit, this can be very annoying, namely when tourists are dependent on a car. Anyone who continues to drive despite their license withdrawn is liable to prosecution for “driving without a license”, which can result in a lengthy process and should be avoided at all costs.