How annoying: A letter of fine ends up in the mailbox or there is a ticket behind the windshield wiper. It is then all the more important to react calmly and correctly.
Forgot the parking ticket, drove a bit too fast or parked in the absolute no-parking area - the appropriate speeding ticket is often not long in coming. Then it is better to react correctly, also to avoid possible consequential costs. But how does it work?
First of all, you have to differentiate: What kind of ticket is it? "The traffic tickets behind the windscreen wipers are so-called warning money offers that were issued due to a minor administrative offence," says Felix Müller-Baumgarten from the Auto Club Europa (ACE). "Even these simple violations cost up to 55 euros."
If the warning is justified, it is advisable to pay the fine within the set period. This avoids follow-up costs. On the other hand, anyone who believes that they have not violated applicable law can make this clear to the authorities by describing their view of the allegation.
"If the authorities still adhere to the violation, they will initiate formal fine proceedings, which will also entail further costs," explains Daniela Mielchen, a specialist lawyer for traffic law. This also happens if a vehicle owner does not react to the warning at all. At the end, a fine can be issued, in which the authority can claim an additional 28.50 euros for fees and expenses.
Drivers with traffic tickets of this kind do not have to worry about additional points in Flensburg. According to Mielchen, fines of up to 55 euros do not result in points being entered in the driving aptitude register. "There are basically only points for a fine of 60 euros or more."
However, there are quite a few stopping and parking violations in the catalog of fines that result in higher fines and points. For example, if someone parks illegally on sidewalks and cycle paths for more than an hour or if an ambulance is obstructed with the illegally parked vehicle.
If you find a ticket on the car, you should definitely take a close look at it before paying. Because in public parking spaces, warning money may only be issued by employees of regulatory authorities such as the police or the regulatory office, according to the ACE. The use of external companies to fulfill sovereign tasks is not permitted.
The situation is somewhat different with parking tickets in supermarket parking lots, for example, which are monitored by private companies. According to Felix Müller-Baumgarten, the property owner has domiciliary rights here. He can also enforce this if he informs about who can park for how long and what the penalty is with appropriate signs about his general terms and conditions.
In most cases, a parking disc must be placed in the car in a clearly visible place in order to be allowed to park for free for one to two hours. If you forget that, you will quickly be asked to pay between 20 and 60 euros. On its website, the ADAC warns against taking private parking surveillance lightly.
Sometimes sensors and cameras even help to control parking times. In the event of violations, the property owner can even have a car towed away and only has to hand it over again when the illegal parker has paid the towing costs.
Drivers should not ignore traffic tickets abroad either. "Unlike in Germany, owner liability is recognized in other EU countries," says Müller-Baumgarten. "This means that violations there can be attributed directly to the vehicle owner if the driver cannot be identified."
If the fine is higher than 70 euros, other EU countries can also have the relevant ticket enforced via the Federal Office of Justice. But even if it doesn't, ignoring it completely can be costly. "If the vehicle owner later wants to re-enter the country, he would certainly be held responsible in the event of a possible check at the border," says Müller-Baumgarten.
In Germany, on the other hand, only those who committed a crime can be prosecuted. If, for example, a speeding car was flashed with a photo, according to lawyer Mielchen, the authorities must prove who was driving the car at the time of the measurement.
If the photo clearly shows that the owner of the vehicle is not the driver, the owner is asked who was behind the wheel at the time. "As a rule, it is expected that you can still remember who drove the car for at least the last 14 days," says Mielchen. If you do not provide any information here, you may be required to keep a logbook.
Under no circumstances should you knowingly enter the wrong person as the responsible driver, as the authorities usually check this information. If the authorities then determine that the person indicated could not have been the driver, there is not only a threat of prosecution for the administrative offense, but also the initiation of criminal investigations due to false suspicion, says Mielchen.
If the official post is not in the mailbox in the next week after a speed camera photo, no one should be hasty in thinking that the ticket has been forgotten. According to the ADAC, a so-called prosecution statute of limitations of three months applies to administrative offenses on public roads. This is how long the fine office has to identify the driver. If a hearing form has already been sent, the deadline is extended accordingly. If the official mail is here, it's time to keep calm.
The most common mistake in connection with hearing forms is hasty admission of a crime, says Daniela Mielchen. "Nobody has to incriminate themselves. Rather, one should first remain silent and seek legal advice before providing information," says Mielchen. A lawyer can, for example, view the investigation file and also check whether a photo is suitable for identification at all - or whether there are indications of an incorrect measurement.
Members of traffic clubs usually have the opportunity to take legal advice. There are also annual policies for traffic legal protection from 40 to 50 euros.