Why German Drivers Hate These Points Posted by Sten on Aug 22, 2019 in Culture, Language, Travel, vocabulary
Last week, I received a rather unfortunate surprise in the Post (mail): A Strafzettel (fine) because I drove too fast. Fortunately, it was a quite minor Verstoß (violation), since I only drove a few km/h above the limit. This means that I only have to pay a Bußgeld (fine). But careful with more serious Verstöße – then you might also get Punkte in Flensburg (points in Flensburg). I am very glad I didn’t! Let me tell you why.
Das Punktesystem in Flensburg
The Punkte are registered in the Fahreignungsregister (Driving Aptitude Register), which is maintained in the city of Flensburg on the Danish-German border in the north of the country by the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (Federal Motor Transport Authority). This is why people refer to these points as Punkte in Flensburg.
There are all kinds of Ordnungswidrigkeiten im Straßenverkehr (road traffic infractions) that can get you Punkte in Flensburg. If you commit an Ordnungswidrigkeit that leads to a Bußgeld of more than 60 euros, you get one Punkt. However, this is only the case if your Fahrverhalten (driving behavior) formed a danger for others. If it didn’t, you pay more, but get no Punkt, at least.
Depending on how severe the Verstoß (violation) is, you can get 1, 2 or 3 Punkte! This also counts for driving way past the speed limit (e.g. 30-40 km/h above the limit), by the way. So careful there.
If you receive acht Punkte (eight points), your Führerschein (driver’s license) is taken away, the so-called Führerscheinentzug (driver’s license revocation). Yikes.
When you reach eight points, congratulations! You lose your Führerschein for a while. Why? Well, the idea is that you are a große Gefahr (great danger) for the Straßenverkehr (road traffic). And so you are taken out of traffic.
This Entzug has a duration of three months to five years, after which you can get it back. Depending on what happened, you might have to go through more driving lessons or go through an Untersuchung (investigation) into your psychological fitness to drive. If your condition is deemed not to improve, your Führerscheinentzug might be life-long! Though this is very rare.
Reaching the Maximalpunktezahl (maximum number of points) of 8 is not the only way to lose your Führerschein. Being under the influence of Alkohol (alcohol) or Drogen (drugs) while driving or Unfallflucht (hit and run) are examples that can also lead to Führerscheinentzug. And don’t think that drinking and biking is a good idea – if you’re caught with alcohol or drugs in your system while cycling, your Führerschein might also be on the line, even though you were not even in a car!
But… I can simply avoid the Punkte, right?
Ok, you might think – what if I just don’t get a Führerschein? Then it cannot be taken away! Sure. But you can still get points! Since your 12th birthday, you can get Punkte. If you cross a rote Ampel (red traffic light) with your bike, for example.
As an Ausländer (foreigner), you do get lucky though. Even though you theoretically get the Punkte, they are not registered to your name in Germany.
However, even for Germans there is some relief. Depending on whether a Verstoß led to 1, 2 or 3 Punkte, there are different Verjährungsfristen (limitation periods). After 2.5, 5 and 10 years, respectively, the Punkte are removed from your Punktekonto (point account). Phew!