According to the German Road Traffic Regulations (StVO), using a phone while driving is strictly regulated to prevent distractions and ensure road safety.
Legal Regulations on Mobile Phone Usage While Driving
The law stipulates that drivers must not hold or use a mobile phone while the vehicle’s engine is running. This includes:
- Reading or writing an SMS or E-mail
- Calling someone
- Holding the cell phone while driving
- Browsing or
- Any other activity that requires manual interaction with the device.
Exceptions are made for hands-free devices or when the vehicle is stationary, and the engine is turned off. Even brief glances at the device can be considered a violation if they divert the driver’s attention from the road.
The use of navigation apps is also permitted, provided the driver does not manually interact with the device while driving.
The regulations extend beyond mobile phones to include other electronic devices such as tablets and e-readers. Similar to mobile phones, using these devices while driving is subject to fines and penalties. The focus of the law is to minimize distractions and ensure that drivers maintain full attention on the road.
Penalties and Fines
Overview of Fines and Penalties
In Germany, using a mobile phone while driving is considered a serious offence, and the fines and penalties are structured to reflect the severity of the violation. Below are the general guidelines for fines:
- A basic fine of €100 for using a mobile phone while driving.
- If the usage leads to endangerment or an accident, the fines may increase to €150 or €200, respectively, along with two points on the driver’s license and a driving ban of one month.
- There are also mentions of other related fines, such as an increase from €40 to €60 for certain offences and minimum fines for other violations.
Aside from the standard fines, drivers may face additional costs associated with processing the violation. This includes administrative fees, court costs (if challenged), and potential increases in insurance premiums.
The specific fines and penalties for “Handy am Steuer” (mobile phone while driving) are detailed in the table below:
|Using Mobile Phone while Driving
|… with Endangerment
|… with Accident Outcome
These fines are designed to discourage drivers from engaging in dangerous behaviours while driving, promoting road safety and adherence to the law.
Caught Using a Mobile Phone During Probationary Period
New drivers in Germany need to be careful with using a mobile phone while driving. This is a serious rule, called an A violation. There are two types of rules: A and B. Breaking an A rule can lead to special punishments.
If a new driver breaks a rule that costs 60 euros or more, their learning period is made 2 years longer. Since using a phone while driving costs 100 euros, new drivers who do this will have their learning period extended. They might also have to go to an extra class to learn more about driving safely.
Police Enforcement and Evidence
How the Police Prove Mobile Phone Usage
Enforcing the regulations on mobile phone usage while driving requires vigilance and effective methods of proof. In Germany, the police have several ways to establish evidence of a violation:
- Observation: Often, a fine can be imposed simply based on the observation of a police officer. If an officer witnesses a driver using a mobile phone, this observation can be sufficient to issue a fine.
- Photographic Evidence: In some cases, police may use cameras or other photographic means to capture evidence of the violation.
- Testimony: The testimony of other witnesses, including passengers or other drivers, can also be used to substantiate the offence.
Consequences of Violations
Once the evidence has been established, the authorities proceed with the legal consequences. This can include issuing a fine, adding points to the driver’s license, or even imposing a driving ban, depending on the severity of the violation.
- Immediate Fine: For clear violations, the police may issue an immediate fine on the spot.
- Legal Proceedings: In more complex cases or if the driver disputes the fine, legal proceedings may be initiated.
- Impact on Insurance: A record of mobile phone usage while driving can also affect insurance premiums, leading to higher costs for the driver.
If a driver believes that the fine was unjustly imposed, there is an option to appeal. The process can be complex, and it’s advisable to consult with legal experts to evaluate whether an appeal is worth pursuing.
- Reviewing Evidence: The driver can request a review of the evidence, including photographs, officers’ observations, and witness statements.
- Legal Representation: Engaging a lawyer specialized in traffic law can be beneficial in navigating the legal process.
- Potential Outcomes: Successful appeals may result in reduced fines or the complete dismissal of the charge.
The German Road Traffic Regulations (§ 23 paragraph 1a StVO) clearly define the rules regarding mobile phone usage while driving, emphasizing the importance of full attention on the road. The penalties for using a mobile phone while driving are substantial, ranging from basic fines to points on the driver’s license and potential driving bans.
In the end, we would advise you to invest in hands-free solutions if you need to use your phone while driving. Remember that no call or message is worth risking your life or the lives of others on the road.