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Questions which are frequently asked with reference to traffic law issues

I have received an administrative order imposing a fine („Bussgeld-bescheid“), are there any steps which can be taken against it?

This is a frequent question which cannot be answered right away without having more detailed information. 

A definite answer as to whether such an administrative order imposing a fine was lawfully issued can not be given until after a close inspection and study of the investigation files.


It is only after such a study of the files that it can be determined whether the penal prosecution of a case is not already subject to the statute of limitations, whether the respective measurements made are to be doubted, or whether the offender cannot even be identified.


If you would rather want to think it over whether or not a lawyer should be instructed to verify the situation, who is exclusively given the mandate to inspect the files, you should, as a matter of precaution, file an objection („Einspruch“) against such an administrative order. As a rule the time period within which it is allowed to file such an objection is two weeks. By proceeding in this way you will at any rate for the time being prevent that such an administrative order imposing a fine upon you will actually come into full legal force and effect (which is important, especially in cases where a driving ban has also been imposed!).


It is in any case strongly recommended that you carefully study the Information concerning the particular legal remedies and appeal to which you may have recourse.

When is it that minor traffic midsdemeanors (Verkehrsordnungswidrigkeiten) are subject to the statute of limitations?

The correct term for this is „Verfolgungsverjährung“, i.e.the application of the German statute of limitation for the prosecution of penal offenses or crimes; in a great many cases of minor traffic misdemeanors these are covered by the provisions of Section 26 sub-section 3 of the German Road Traffic Act  („Strassenverkehrsgesetz“). As a matter of principle this term is three months. This provision has the following wording: 


„In the case of minor misdemeanors covered by Section 24 of the Road Traffic Act the period of statutory limitation of prosecution is three months as long as neither an administrative order imposing a fine („Bußgeldbescheid“) nor criminal charges have been brought against the person concerned  on  account of such act; after that it is six months.“


It must, however, be remembered that this three-months period is not applicable for offenses of the statutory 0.5 - per mille blood alcohol limit (Section 24 a of the German Road Traffic Act). In these cases the period of statutory limitation is as long as one year in the case of a wilfully committed offense, and six months for a negligently committed offense (Section 31 subsection 2 No. 3 of the German Minor Misdemeanor Act)


This period begins with the day on which the offense was committed, in the case of offenses committed over a longer period of time with the end of such offensive action. In this context it must as a matter of principle be kept in mind that it is already the hearing of the person concerned – and not yet the issue of the administrative order imposing a fine – which interrupts the period of limitation. Moreover Section 33 of the German Minor Misdemeanor Act specifies a number of circumstances which result in an interruption of the application of the statutory limitation of prosecution. It is important to remember that it is only the hearing of the actual offender, which will interrupt statutory limitation period. 


Ongoing investigations or a hearing of a wrong offender do not have any influence upon the currently applicable limitation for the prosecution of a penal offense in relation to the actual offender.

Do I have to undergo a medical and psychological examination („MPU“) when I have committed a minor traffic misdemeanor or a penal traffic offence?

A medical and psychological examination is required if the authority which is granting driver’s licenses has doubts as to whether a person is able and qualified to drive motor vehicles. It is in these cases that the submission of an MPU expertise by the person concerned is ordered.


In this respect Section 13 of the German Driver’s License Regulations even stipulates a mandatory order requiring the submission of an MPU expertise if a person has been driving a vehicle in traffic on roads with a blood alcohol concentration of 1.6 per mille or more.


The submission of an MPU expertise must also be ordered in the case of repeated road traffic offenses which were committed under the influence of alcohol. When a new driver’s license is applied for following a withdrawal of a person’s driver’s license by a Court it is possible to order an MPU expertise if the license was withdrawn on account of penal offenses which were committed in a context with traffic on roads


If I brief a lawyer, who is going to pay for the costs for the lawyer?

If you would rather not dispute and argue yourself with the insurance company as far as the damage is concerned which was caused by the accident, it is, as a matter of principle, permitted for you to contact and brief a „Rechtsanwalt“ (attorney at law) to represent you with a view to having your damage settled which was caused for you by the accident. 


The costs which are to be incurred in this context are, as a matter of principle, reimbursable. You then give instructions to your lawyer to claim only that part of the damage where prospects are that it can be successfully enforced.  If you chose to assert the entirety of the damage although it is only a part of the damage the enforcement of which has chances of success, for instance for the reason that it is potentially to be foreseen that part of the damage was caused by the claimant’s own fault we feel obliged to first of all draw your attention to the fact that you will have to pay potential excess costs your own self.


Since it happens in many cases that disputes arise with regard to the question as to who has to pay for the damage and what the amount of the damage is, it is recommended to take out a legal expenses insurance, as such an insurance wards off and covers the economic risks of a court case which frequently involves considerable costs for expert opinions.

May I, after having been involved in an accident which was not my fault, rent a vehicle to temporarily replace my personal vehicle? What do I have to consider or keep in mind in this respect?

If the situation after a traffic accident is such that your vehicle is no longer in good running order or not roadworthy or can at least no longer be safely operated you may lease a rental car for the period of time which is required for the repair work or for the period of time which is necessary for you to obtain a vehicle which is to replace your own personal vehicle. 


The costs arising for this can, however, only be reimbursed if you provide evidence to prove either the repair of your vehicle or the obtaining of a vehicle to temporarily replace your personal vehicle. In the case of repair work this is as a matter of principle done by the submission of the invoice which you get for this repair work. It is advisable to not simply rent a vehicle of the same size category but rather a vehicle of a lower type of one class in order to so avoid a deduction for what is called „Eigenersparnis“ (i.e. your own savings resulting from the non-use of the vehicle):


Insurances will, as a matter of principle, not completely reimburse the costs for a rental car but will rather make a deduction for own personal savings, for the reason that your own vehicle is not operated and stands idle and is not subject to wear and tear as long as you have rented a car.


Situations which currently and time and again cause problems arise in the case of a reimbursement of costs for rented cars, when a vehicle is rented for an accident replacement rate tariff. This is a tariff which, as a rule, is far above the normal tariff. It is recommended to obtain information from the car rental company where you rent the vehicle in order to find out to which extent the tariff for which you rent the vehicle provides actually for reimbursement.


Please keep in mind that you, too, as a victim to an accident, also have an obligation to minimize the damage. If you can do without your car while it is being repaired, you should not forget that you can alternatively also claim a compensation for the loss of use of your own privately used car.


Please remember: Even if you do think that the accident was in no way your fault, there is still a risk that it will in the end be found that you have to pay for a certain proportional share of the costs of the accident. In that case you will also have to pay part of the rental car costs yourself. The question of a potential quota should therefore, in case of doubt, be clarified prior to your renting a vehicle if you do not immediately and absolutely need to have a vehicle to replace your own.