If you are traveling abroad by car, the same thing can happen to you as in Germany: You get flashed at increased speed. Often this happens during summer vacation. Many drivers do not take it with speed limits in the foreign vacation – perhaps also because of the vacation situation – "so exactly" and trust in the fact that to them not much can happen if they left the country and are again in Germany. The same applies in the case of other fines, e.g. for using a cell phone while driving. But in times of the EU this is less and less true, often you have to fear enforcement from abroad if you do not pay the fine on the spot.
2. Other fines
The question of what to do when you receive a fine abroad and what happens if you do not pay on the spot also applies in principle to other fines, such as a parking ticket, a DUI fine, etc. However, the conditions of a fine, the sanctioning (amount of the fine) or the further handling of a traffic offense differ in part considerably from the practice known in Germany. Before entering a country, one should therefore inform oneself about the most important traffic and fine regulations. This is especially true if there are significant differences to Germany or if rules apply that do not exist in Germany (e.g., divorce).B. driving all day with dipped headlights).
3. The legal system of the respective country is decisive
As a rule, the legal system of the respective country is decisive, both with regard to the reason for the fine (the offense) and for the specific sanction (the amount of the fine). Because the decisive factor for the fine is the place where the (alleged) offense occurred. The application of German law or a choice of law between German and foreign law is therefore ruled out in the case of fines. The situation may be different for claims in connection with a fine offense – in the case of a traffic accident abroad, for example, treatment costs incurred in Germany (e.g.B. hospitalization) accrue under German law.
In some countries (z.B. Italy or Austria), the vehicle owner (and not the driver) is always fined for traffic violations. If you were not at the wheel yourself, this argument is therefore of no use in these countries.
4. Different levels of fines
The fine amounts for speeding offenses differ z.T. considerably from those incurred for a comparable offense in Germany. Even if the fines in Germany by the German drivers are generally not exactly felt as "favorable", here substantially higher fines are raised abroad.
First of all, this may be due to the speed limits applicable in the respective country. Outside of built-up areas and especially on the autobahn, the maximum speed limit is often much lower (100-120 km/h) than in Germany, and there is no other country with a standard speed limit (130 km/h) like on German autobahns when the roads are otherwise "free to drive".
The penalties for speeding offences of just a few kilometers per hour are often very high, even with the usual "tolerance discount" in Germany (z.B. of up to three percent of the speed in the case of standardized measurements as described in our article on distance violations) must not be taken into account. The following examples from some popular vacation countries:
- In Switzerland, fines of over 30 euros are already due for speeding offences of 1-5 km/h. In the case of violations of 25 km/h, more than 600 euros can be due. Violations of 50 km/h are punishable by a fine of two months' salary (!), in addition a driver's license withdrawal threatens
- In Austria, there are flexible fine levels, which depend on the specific individual case. Thus, a speeding violation of 20 km/h is still quite "cheap" (20 Euro). For a speeding offense of 50 km/h, the minimum fine is 150 euros, but it is also possible to pay a fine of more than 2.000 euros
- In Great Britain, a speeding violation of 50 km/h costs approx. 3.000 euros, in France 1.500 euros. In Italy, the minimum fine is 530 euros.
5. Enforcement from resp. abroad
Especially in the European Union you have to expect that fines will be enforced in Germany as well. For fines of 70 euros or more, enforcement is possible in Germany via the German judicial authorities, whereby any procedural costs (processing fees, late payment surcharges) are included, so that the fine of 70 euros is reached quite quickly. This does not mean, however, that you are always "off the hook" if the fine is less severe. There is a bilateral enforcement agreement with Austria, for example, under which fines as low as 25 euros can be enforced.
A distinction must be made between the threat of enforcement in the country in which the fine was imposed and the threat of enforcement in the country in which the fine was imposed. Whoever travels to this country again (z.B. on the next vacation), must expect (for example in Holland), that the fine is enforced at the first contact with foreign authorities (customs, airport) and made a condition of entry – of course with a hefty delay surcharge.
6. Driving license consequences
A withdrawal of the German driving license by a foreign authority is not possible. This is due to the fact that a German sovereign act (administrative act) cannot be overruled by another state or. can be taken back.
From the driver's license, d.h. From the permission of the driving-permit, however, the issued driver's license is to be distinguished. This can and is also carried out abroad from a certain amount of fine or penalty. Severity of the offense confiscated. In some cases this is only temporary, often a temporary driving ban is still imposed. This also only applies to the country in which it was imposed.
However, it should be noted in this regard: Partially, the driver's license is also retained and sent to the German authorities. Thus, the German driving license authority becomes aware of the violation. If the authority has doubts about the driver's basic suitability to participate in road traffic, it can initiate the appropriate measures, e.g., a ban on driving.B. impose a driving ban or order a medical-psychological assessment (MPU – the "idiot test"). The driving license authority can base its doubts about suitability on standards under German law and is not bound by the assessment of foreign colleagues (cf. OVG Munster v. 03.11.2014 – Az.16 B 694/14). The "presumption of innocence" until the end of the proceedings does not apply in such a case, since the driving license authority acts in the course of danger prevention to safeguard road traffic.
7. Conclusion and practical tip
Before going abroad, it is best to find out in advance about the applicable regulations. This sounds trivial, yet the prevailing differences are often underestimated – just like the (possible) consequences of a fine. The best "driver" (in the truest sense of the word) is, of course, the one who adheres to the applicable regulations abroad, which, however, requires knowledge of them.
Anyone who has received a fine should, depending on the amount of the offense, either pay abroad or immediately consult a lawyer for international traffic law. Because even in foreign law or in the case of enforcement in Germany, there are possibilities of defense with the assistance of a lawyer.