FINES & PENALTIES
It’s quite possible that even the most careful driver may find themselves in situations which aren’t legal and result in paying a fine. Compared to some of the fines in the USA, the fines here are relatively low in cost. This doesn’t mean driving laws can be taken lightly, however. There is also a points system in place which tracks traffic infractions.
The tables below show the penalties one can incur if they speed, both in town and out of town borders:
If you find yourself racking up penalties, you may want to check your driving records for points. You can do so here:
HOW DO I PAY?
If you receive a speeding or parking ticket, payment is easy through the SEPA system. Look for the IBAN on the letter, as well as a citation number (Aktenzeichen), and setup a payment transfer with your bank. I would
recommend putting in your last name along with the citation number, just in case. The number (and your name if you choose) go in the field Verwendungszwecks.
Haven’t done a payment before? Don’t have a bank yet? Look here.
I GOT A SPEEDING TICKET BUT DON’T LIVE IN GERMANY
Since I assume you rented a car, the rental company will happily forward you the bill to your home address, along with their service fee for this convenience.
ADAC & VEHICLE INSURANCE
Insurance is always important, and as you’ve probably noticed by now Germany loves insurance. Policies tend to be more conservative here so you may need to buy more coverage with higher limits than you are used to. One very easy option, though limited in availability to all, is purchasing USAA coverage since they have many years of experience with families stationed in Germany. I had USAA before I arrived here and switching was easy. I also didn’t see a price increase, even when adding on a second car when I got here AND adding a second driver AND combining this with rental insurance.
The bare minimum one must have to register their car is third party liability insurance. Surprisingly, collision and comprehensive isn’t required by law; however most policies will come with it built in. There are many providers in and around Germany which specialize in helping English speakers transition over to the German system, and some provide other services as well, such as vehicle shipping.
Wiesbaden has resident parking permits available at the Bürgeramt. These do not guarantee you a spot, but they allow you to park without exception in the zone you live in. The cost is about 30 euros for two years.
Parking garages are much smaller in Europe. If you have a larger vehicle, say an F150, you’ll want to map out the garages around your home that will fit your truck! I find the garage fees all over to be generally cheaper than anything around DC.
If you’d prefer to park on the street, have coins handy. Not all the machines take cards or parking apps yet. I think street parking in Wiesbaden has gotten really expensive since I’ve lived here. The city is trying to discourage people from driving in and this is one of the ways they’re doing it.
But what about street parking when you see blue and white disks in car windows? It’s called a Parkscheibe and it’s an honor system method of parking. Set the time you arrived by rotating the wheel, and follow the time allotment on the nearest street sign to know when you need to come back.
Renting a car is easy, your home country’s driving license plus an international driving permit is needed, or just your German driving license. I recommend the company Sixt for their network and prices. Make sure to tell them if you plan to travel across borders, you could invalidate your contract if you do so without informing them first.
I’VE DECIDED I DO NOT WANT TO DRIVE IN GERMANY
Fair enough. Not everyone loves the idea of driving in a foreign country, and sometimes finding parking, gas stations, and general navigating take away from limited vacation times.
Germany has fabulous public transport. Trains are my favorite way to travel (when I have the luxury of time, sometimes trains just take too long) and if I could, I’d plan all my Continental vacations around train time tables.
Taxis are quite nice, nicer than the states in my opinion. My favorite app to use is MyTaxi, now called FreeNow in case you had the older version.. Uber is not always available or legal; double check your location before taking or relying on an Uber!
About the author:
Audrey Shankles is an American who moved to Germany, and who writes about how that’s going at www.a-broad.com. She comes from the Washington DC region in the United States and has been in Germany for over 5 years. While she misses the Nats, the Caps and brunches along the Potomac, she’s fallen in love with the Rheingau, 3 euro beers, and taking the train everywhere.
Audrey has held a multitude of jobs and explored numerous careers and fancies herself a “person who does things with people she likes.” When writing, she focuses on helping people understand their appliances and recipes in German, posts her personal thoughts about living abroad and her failures at integrating into German society.