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Driving Laws in Germany

General Driving Rules

  • The minimum age to drive in Germany is 18.
  • Traffic drives on the right and passes on the left
  • Children under 12 years old or shorter than 1.5 meters may not sit in the front seat unless they are in an approved child safety seat. However, you may not use a child safety seat in the front seat if there is an active airbag.
  • Drivers must have at least third-party liability insurance and must carry proof of that insurance as well as proof of ownership (registration or rental papers) at all times.
  • Vehicles must carry a warning triangle. You are required to place the warning triangle 100 meters behind your vehicle if it is disabled (200 meters on the Autobahn)
  • Vehicles must carry a first ais kit, but not a fire extinstguisher.
  • You must leave your doors unlocked while driving to facilitate rescue in an accident.
  • It is illegal to drive with your parking lights only; you must use your headlights at night and during bad weather.
  • Motorcyclists must ride with helmets and headlights on at all times.

Fines and Penalties

The police are allowed to collect fines (Verwarnungsgeld) for most minor traffic offenses on the spot. If you don’t have enough cash on hand, you can usually pay with a credit/debit card. If you are unable or unwilling to pay (you have the legal right to do so), your vehicle may be impounded (at additional cost to you), although in most cases you will probably be issued a citation to appear in court later. If you refuse to pay the spot fine, you may be assessed a higher fine when you go to court. Some fines are based on your income. The German police are very professional and corruption is very rare, so you should always be given a receipt for the payment.

Penalties for drunk driving now start with a blood alcohol limit as low as 0.03.

Speed Limits

In Germany, there is a set of general or “default” speed limits (Geschwindigkeitbeschränkung). These are the limits you must obey in the absence of signs:

Passenger vehiclesMotorcycles Passenger vehicle with trailer
Vehicles over 3.5tBuses
Vehicles over 3.5t with trailer Vehicles over 3.5t
>7.5t
Entering urban area
Within urban areas
50 km/h 50 km/h 50 km/h
Leaving urban area
Outside urban areas
100 km/h 80 km/h 60 km/h
AutobahnExpressway
Autobahns & Expressways
Recommended 130 km/h 80 km/h 80 km/h

Autobahn

German autobahns are famous for having no universal motorway speed limit, although slightly more than 50% of them have posted speed limits[14] and about 10% are equipped with motorway control systems that can show variable speed limits.[15] There is no national speed limit, either, for cars and motorcycles on any highway outside of towns if it has a central reservation or a minimum of two marked lanes per direction. Due to this it is common to be overtaken by cars or motorcycles travelling over 200 km/h (125 mph). On such roads, as well as motorways, a recommended speed limit (Richtgeschwindigkeit) of 130 km/h (81 mph) applies. While driving at higher speeds is not punishable, the increased risk induced by higher speeds (erhöhte Betriebsgefahr) may result in partial liability for damages. Moreover, the law forbids travel at speeds that would extend the vehicle’s minimum halting distance beyond the driver’s line of sight.[16] On all German roads, there are speed limits for trucks, buses, cars towing trailers, and small motorised vehicles (Mopeds, etc.).

Germany’s autobahn network has a total length of about 12,200 km, or 7,580 miles (in 2005), which ranks as the third-longest in the world behind the Interstate Highway System of the United States and the National Trunk Highway System (NTHS) of the People’s Republic of China.

The Environmental Zone

Vehicle / Sticker

Coloured stickers showing the emission group of a vehicle were introduced in order to identify low-emission vehicles. Every vehicle in an environmental zone in Germany must display the required sticker on the windscreen, making it easy to monitor the environmental zone. The basis for the marking requirement is the 35th ordinance for the implementation of the Federal Immission Protection Act – Marking Ordinance (35. BImSchV). The stickers apply in every low emission zone in Germany.

Each city specifies which sticker is required to drive in its environmental zone with an extra sign below the traffic sign. Berlin requires the green sticker, which stands for the emission group with the lowest level of pollutants. Foreign-registered vehicles also require an emissions sticker.

Buy your sticker here – https://www.berlin.de/labo/mobilitaet/kfz-zulassung/feinstaubplakette/shop.86595.en.php

Information courtesy of the German Environment, Transport and Climate Protection Zone

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