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Your lawyer for criminal traffic law

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Another part of the criminal law is the traffic criminal law. Likewise, there are also criminal consequences if one does not adhere to the prescribed norms of the law books. Of high importance for road traffic law are the Road Traffic Regulations (StVO), the Road Traffic Licensing Regulations (StVZO), the Road Traffic Act (StVG), the Driving License Regulations (FEV) and the Vehicle Registration Regulations (FZV). The aim of these laws and the ordinances is to ensure road safety and also to prevent serious accidents.

Norms of the traffic criminal law in the StGB

Lawyer for traffic criminal law | Norms of traffic criminal law

A few norms of traffic criminal law are included in the Criminal Code. These fall under the §§ 315 to 316 StGB. At § 315b StGB regulates dangerous interference with road traffic. § Section 315c of the Criminal Code explains the endangerment of road traffic. Particularly relevant can be the § 315d StGB become when it comes to prohibited motor vehicle races. The motor vehicles involved in such races can be banned according to § 315f StGB be confiscated. Anyone who has been drinking in road traffic may be liable for a fine after § 316 StGB liable to prosecution. This includes both intentional and negligent offenses. For example, anyone who disregards traffic signs or crosses the road at a red light may be liable to prosecution under the Road Traffic Act (StVO). This also negligently. Thus, criminal liability is already conceivable under the StGB.

In the context of a road traffic hazard or a drunk driving offense, this usually happens intentionally. For the most part, these standards are punished more severely than negligence offenses, because intent involves a deliberate disregard of traffic regulations.

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The road traffic regulations

Lawyer for traffic criminal law | The STVO as a regulation of German traffic law

The Road Traffic Regulations (StVO) are mostly the basic regulation in German traffic law. Among other things, it contains provisions on the:

  • Traffic flow and right of way rules

  • Overtake

  • Speed and its limitations

  • The use of the lanes

  • The lighting of motor vehicles

Use of seat belts, etc.

Violations of the StVO can normally be dealt with under administrative offense law, but depending on the severity of the violation, they can also be dealt with as a criminal offense. Administrative offenses are usually committed in the case of: Cell phone use at the wheel, speeding, insufficient distance, wrong parking, disregard of regulations for overtaking (overtaking ban) or also a hit-and-run when a parked car is damaged. Criminal offenses can be present exemplarily with: Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication.nDriving without a license, hit-and-run in the case of injured or killed persons, driving while absolutely intoxicated, dangerous interference with road traffic or misuse of license plates.

Drunkenness in traffic

Lawyer for traffic criminal law | alcohol and drug influence in traffic criminal law

One of the most important factors in criminal traffic law is alcohol or drug influence at the wheel. It is forbidden by law to drive a vehicle under the influence of alcohol (0.5 per mille) or under the influence of other intoxicating substances. If one violates these regulations, then fines, driving bans or even the revocation of the driving license can be the result of one's actions. Further details are regulated by the § 316 StGB:

§ 316 StGB - Drunkenness in traffic

(1) Whoever drives a vehicle in traffic (§ 315 to §315e) although he is unable to drive the vehicle safely as a result of drinking alcoholic beverages or other intoxicating substances, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than one year or by a fine, if the act is not punishable under § 315a or § 315c.

(2) Pursuant to subsection (1), a person who commits the act negligently shall also be punished.

In the context of the objective elements of the offense, it is sufficient that the offender is only driving the vehicle or is not capable of driving the vehicle safely. Thus, it is a prerequisite that the psychophysical capacity of the driver is so diminished that he is unable to meet the requirements of traffic. He or she therefore no longer has the capacity to act appropriately and purposefully. The inability to drive itself must have been caused by intoxicating substances. Thus, impairment by non-intoxicating means does not fall under § 316 StGB. An intoxicating agent is present if it impairs the inhibition capacity, as well as the intellectual and motor ability of the driver. In the context of the effects, they are thus comparable in their entirety to alcohol.

The characteristic of enjoyment is not directly understood as ingestion by mouth. Enjoyment is the physical ingestion of the above-mentioned substances. In this respect, the type of consumption is no longer relevant. There are currently no scientific threshold values that indicate a reduction in overall performance. In a specific case, however, there must be indications of unsafe driving that show more than disinhibition.

A distinction is also made between absolute and relative unsafe driving. The alcohol concentration is the most important evidence. It does not matter how the effect of the alcohol appears, but is irrefutably presumed when the respective limit is reached. For all drivers of motor vehicles, there is a limit of 1.1 per mille where absolute driving unsafety is presumed. However, relative driving unsafety is already assumed at a limit of 0.3 per mille. When considering driving and the associated driving uncertainty, various aspects are important. 

Among other things, the following things play a role in an assessment of the facts: circumstances inherent in the person, such as illness, drowsiness, nervousness and other internal circumstances. The traffic situation and the road and weather conditions also play a role. However, one of the most important factors in the assessment should be the alcohol-related conspicuities in the driver's behavioral pattern. In case of doubt, an unsafe driving condition can be assumed at a very early stage. The lower the per mille value, the higher the requirements for evidence. The closer the value is to the absolute driving unsafety, the lower are the requirements for the evidence.

The determination of the blood alcohol concentration

Criminal traffic law attorney | Determination of blood alcohol concentration by blood sample analysis

The blood alcohol concentration is determined by analyzing a blood sample. This is done in at least two different methods to avoid measurement errors and inaccuracies. An average value is then calculated from these two measured values. This applies at least to the evaluation of the absolute driving uncertainty. In the context of relative driving uncertainty, a single finding can also be used as an indication. In order to be able to prove the absolute driving uncertainty, the breath alcohol value alone is not sufficient. It only has a high indicative effect if there are further indications of evidence. 

However, the recalculation remains important in all cases. The blood alcohol concentration at the time of the offense is and remains the decisive factor for criminal prosecution. Since it is not uncommon for some time to elapse between the time of the blood sample and the time of the offense, the concentration at the time of the offense must be determined by recalculation. However, a recalculation is not necessarily required if the limit of absolute driving uncertainty has already been reached even at the time of the blood sample. At the time of the crime, the concentration is logically still higher.

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Driving a vehicle

Lawyer for traffic offenses | Driving a vehicle and participation in traffic events

It depends on whether the offender had a participation in the traffic event or whether the offender was driving a vehicle. Driving a vehicle only covers movement processes in traffic. Thus, it is a prerequisite that the offender sets a vehicle in motion under its intended use and application of the propulsive forces of the vehicle solely or at least jointly responsible.

In the context of the completion of the elements of the crime of drunk driving, the elements of the crime do not require that a concrete dangerous consequence occurs. It is sufficient in this respect the abstract endangerment, which occurs by the participation of the driving unsafe in the public traffic. The act requires at least conditional intent, which exists at the start of the journey or during the journey. It is also possible to commit the offense through negligence.

Other important crimes in traffic law

Lawyer for traffic criminal law | Other relevant criminal offenses in traffic law

One of these offenses is hit and run or hit and run. For example, it is mandatory that in the event of a traffic accident in which persons have been injured or property damage has occurred, the driver must stop immediately on the spot and, if necessary, provide first aid. Violations of this duty can then be considered hit-and-run offenses, and not infrequently result in severe penalties. This may involve fines, points in Flensburg or even imprisonment, especially if serious injuries or even a fatality have occurred.

Coercion in road traffic

Lawyer for traffic criminal law | The coercion in road traffic - § 240 StGB

Another point is the punishable coercion in road traffic. In this case, targeted actions or threats against other road users lead to violence or the threat of violence. This creates a certain coercive situation for the coerced. The goal of the criminal is a certain behavior of the victim. The coercion itself is in § 240 of the Criminal Code held.

§ 240 - Coercion

(1) Any person who unlawfully compels a person to perform an act, to tolerate an act or to refrain from an act by force or by threat of a serious evil shall be liable to a custodial sentence not exceeding three years or to a monetary penalty.


Coercive actions may include: Pushing, flashing (headlight flasher) or cutting, slowing down the person behind, driving towards a person or a vehicle in order to provoke, the formation of a roadblock etc. Questionable and often discussed is the borderline between a mere misdemeanor or coercion. If one drives too close for a short time, this will not be coercion. However, if you drive behind the person in front of you for a longer period of time and also use the headlight flasher to put the other person under pressure and he may be forced to change lanes out of fear.

Then there is talk of coercion. What is certain is that it is always a case-by-case decision and that coercion cannot always be assumed in advance. The Berlin Court of Appeal, for example, ruled that it is not a case of coercion if you have a slow driver in front of you in the left lane of the freeway, overtake him on the right and then pull in again just in front of him. In this specific case, it was merely a case of reckless overtaking and a misdemeanor. There was probably no intention to slow down or obstruct the other driver (AZ. 161 Ss 211/16). However, if this is added again, then coercion may again be involved.

Driving without a license

Lawyer for traffic criminal law | driving without a license according to § 21 I of StVG

Driving without a license is regulated in § 21 I of the Road Traffic Act (StVG).

§ 21 StVG - Driving without a license

(1) A penalty of imprisonment of up to one year or a fine shall be imposed on anyone who

1. drives a motor vehicle although he or she does not have the required driving license or is prohibited from driving the vehicle under Section 44 of the Criminal Code or under Section 25 of this Act; or,

2. as the keeper of a motor vehicle, orders or permits someone to drive the vehicle who does not have the driving license required for this purpose or who is prohibited from driving the vehicle under Section 44 of the Criminal Code or under Section 25 of this Act. [...]

In the exact context, one must not mix up the terms. For example, a distinction must be made between a driver's license and a driver's permit. A driver's license is an official permit. It allows you to drive a motor vehicle. The driver's license itself is an official document. It merely certifies that a valid driver's license exists and that the person possesses it. Thus, it can be stated that the driver's license itself is the "certificate" of possession of the driver's license.

Consequently, a distinction must also be made between a driving ban, a revocation of the driving license and driving without a license, which merely reflects an administrative offense. Driving without a license is therefore a criminal offense. However, the norm does not only entail a penalty for the driver, but in case of doubt also for the owner of the vehicle, if he allows or orders a person without a driving license to drive the car. 

The vehicle owner is also obliged to check whether or not the driver meets the respective requirements for driving the motor vehicle. An exception to this is driving on private property. There, anyone without a driver's license may drive the motor vehicle. Only in the case of damage it becomes difficult. Liability will therefore always have to be affirmed and a claim against the insurance company virtually ruled out.

If someone is found to be driving without a license away from private property, they are committing a criminal offense under Section 21 of the German Road Traffic Act (StVG). This is punishable by a fine of up to 180 daily rates or a prison sentence of up to twelve months. It is irrelevant with which vehicle one is conspicuous. In the event of a conviction, the responsible lawyer will always make sure that the penalty remains below 90 daily rates. Above this limit, the offender is considered to have a criminal record. Driving without a valid driver's license is given if one has to hand over the driver's license temporarily after a violation, such as a speeding violation, or if a court or authority has ordered the general revocation of the driver's license. 

This is mostly the case after a BTM abuse, alcohol behind the wheel. From then on, the offender has a ban period of six months and can apply for a new driver's license from this point on. However, the MPU (medical-psychological examination) usually follows after the ban period. Instead of an MPU, a retraining can also be the consequence. If you are a repeat offender, the penalties can also be higher. If you have already been caught within three years, the police may confiscate your vehicle.

Driving without a license, on the other hand, is not a criminal offense. This sometimes happens more often than thought. You forget it at home, misplace it or, in the worst case, it is even lost. In these moments, however, it is only a misdemeanor. If they have forgotten the driver's license, then there is a warning fine. Currently, this amounts to ten euros. The same warning fine is due if the driver's license has expired. Therefore, always note the expiration date on the driver's license. If the warning fine is not paid on time, it quickly becomes a fine. In addition to the ten euros, administrative fees and expenses worth €28.00 are then often incurred.

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Speeding violation in road traffic law

Lawyer for traffic criminal law | The speeding violation in the traffic criminal law according to § 3 StVO

Probably the most common case in traffic criminal law is the speeding offense. The maximum permissible speed in Germany is governed by Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act. This specifies the binding upper limit for the speed of vehicles. The respective valid maximum speed or colloquially speed limit can be indicated by traffic signs. Speed limits for passenger cars, which also apply without traffic signs, are:

  • 50 km/h within built-up areas

  • 100 km/h outside built-up areas.

Up to now, there has been no general speed limit on German highways. Except in places where a speed is specified by traffic signs, drivers can therefore determine their own speed. Nevertheless, there is a guideline speed of 130 km/h in Germany. As the name itself suggests, this is merely a recommendation. The driver does not necessarily have to adhere to it. However, if this guideline speed is greatly exceeded and a traffic accident occurs as a result, the driver could be held partially responsible.

Anyone who violates the maximum speed limit must expect fines or penalties. The amount of the respective penalty always depends on the violation itself and whether it occurred in or out of town. The penalty incurred can always be found in the current list of fines. The penalties currently range from €20.00 to a combination of €800.00, two points in Flensburg and a driving ban of three months.

Cell phone at the wheel

Lawyer for traffic offences | The use of the cell phone at the wheel

The constant companion of people in this day and age is and remains the smartphone. People are constantly reachable and want to be informed about everything at all times and everywhere. But not only the cell phone falls under those rules. Not only is the phone itself not allowed, neither is sending, writing or reading text messages. Even reading the time on a cell phone is prohibited if the cell phone has to be held in the hand. However, if the cell phone is in a cradle, then it might be allowed. The prerequisite for this is that you do not allow yourself to be distracted from the road traffic. This is still dependent on conditions such as weather, traffic or visibility.

As soon as the driver stops the car and the engine is switched off, the cell phone may be used. An automatic start-stop system in the car at the traffic lights, on the other hand, is not sufficient for this. The ban applies strictly to all electronic devices that are used for communication, information or organization. This means that even operating the smartwatch on the wrist is theoretically prohibited. 

The exception seems to be when using the voice control and the read-aloud function on the smartwatch. If this rule is violated, the offender will face a fine of at least €100.00 and a point in Flensburg. If this results in endangerment or damage to property, then a driving ban is also added, the fine is raised and there are more points. The cell phone while cycling also costs 55.00 €.

For example, the use of a touchscreen permanently installed in a car may constitute a criminal offense if it exceeds a "brief" moment. A well-known verdict in this regard was the accident of a Tesla driver who drove off the road in the rain because he wanted to operate the windshield wiper of his Tesla. This is done via the touchscreen installed in the car and takes place in several steps. Thus, the touchscreen is an electronic device according to § 23 I a S. 1 and 2 StVO, whose operation or adapted gaze is only allowed if it takes a short moment.

Driving without insurance coverage

Criminal traffic law attorney | Driving without insurance coverage

In Germany, there is statutory insurance coverage for all vehicles that are registered for road traffic. This is the motor vehicle liability insurance. Anyone who does not have this insurance and drives a motor vehicle on the road commits a criminal offense and even risks imprisonment or a fine. If a vehicle is not insured and an accident occurs, then the driver is liable for the damage caused by him/herself. However, the vehicle owner is also partly to blame if he or she allowed the vehicle to be driven and knew that there was no insurance coverage. 

The obligation to insure also applies to motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, but also to trucks and motor homes. The legal consequence is a criminal offense and this can result in a prison sentence of six months, the revocation of the driver's license or a fine of up to 180 daily rates. In detail, it does not necessarily depend on negligence or intent.

Regulations during the probationary period

Lawyer for traffic offences | Regulations during the probationary period regarding offences in road traffic

The situation is particularly precarious when a driver commits traffic violations and is still on probation. The probationary period is two years. Violations during the probationary period are always punished particularly severely. In principle, the same rules apply to drivers during the probationary period as to other road users. However, the violations themselves are divided into A and B violations and into misdemeanors and felonies. 

A-offenses are serious violations of the German Road Traffic Act (StVO) or traffic law. These include, for example, drunk driving, hit and run, coercion, or speeding over 21 km/h. If such an offense is committed, the probationary period is extended by another two years and participation in a remedial seminar becomes mandatory. If a further A or B offense is committed during the probationary period, this will be followed by traffic psychology counseling and, ultimately, the driver's license will be revoked.

B" offenses are therefore less serious traffic violations. These include driving with worn tires, using a cell phone while driving, or misuse of license plates. One-time offenses do not always result in a probationary period measure. If another B offense is added, the same measures as for an A offense will result. A one-time A offense and two B offenses are therefore equivalent and the same measures will then result. After four less serious violations, the driver's license will still be revoked.


Traffic Crimes Lawyer | Legal Advice & Conclusion

In the case of a traffic offense, the entire traffic offense law is very complex and comprehensive. In most cases, except in the case of a misdemeanor, it is advisable to consult legal counsel in order to accurately assess the individual situations and create good defenses. Through case law, criminal traffic law is constantly evolving, and depending on the court and state, these can vary. An experienced Lawyer for traffic offences, a Lawyer for criminal law, can help preserve the rights of the accused, minimize potential penalties and, at best, develop a very good defense strategy.

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Law firm for criminal law in Kerpen, Cologne and Witten

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