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Drunk driving in Germany, high fines and penalties: here is what you risk in 2024

Drunk Driving in Germany - Traffic Fines

Drunk driving in Germany: laws and penalties – Traffic Fines (2024). Driving under the influence of alcohol poses not only the risk of fines and accruing penalty points but also the potential loss of one’s driver’s license. The question arises: What are the prescribed blood alcohol limits? Taking the wheel after consuming even a couple of beers is ill-advised. Nevertheless, a significant number of individuals still choose to drive under the influence. In the most severe instances, this decision can have fatal consequences. Here are the current alcohol limits in Germany and a detailed list of traffic fines and penalties for drunk driving.
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What exactly constitutes driving under the influence of alcohol, and what penalties correspond to specific blood alcohol levels? Operating a vehicle while intoxicated may impair the ability to react swiftly in emergencies, increasing the likelihood of collisions with street fixtures, trees, or other cars. In the worst-case scenario, impaired visibility in the darkness may result in a failure to notice pedestrians in the vehicle’s path. Here are the consequences for driving under the influence in Germany.
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What is the alcohol limit in Germany?

According to lawyer Christian Janeczek, as reported by, road traffic laws provide clear regulations, albeit complex ones. Generally, Germany enforces a 0.5 per thousand limit. Driving with alcohol levels below this threshold typically results in no punishment. However, crucial exceptions exist:

  • The 0.5 per thousand limit does not apply to new drivers on probation or to drivers under 21 years of age. They are absolutely forbidden to drink alcohol and drive.
  • Even under the 0.5 per thousand limit , you can be considered relatively unfit to drive from just 0.3 per thousand – for example if you are impaired or have caused an accident due to alcohol.

Alcohol in Germany: From misdemeanor to crime

Operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol level between 0.5 and 1.09 per thousand is considered a misdemeanor in Germany. Offenders may face a fine and a driving ban, with repeat offenders potentially losing their driver’s license permanently.
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For blood alcohol levels exceeding 1.1 per thousand, it becomes a criminal offense, leading to a criminal procedure. This offense carries the risk of imprisonment. It’s important to note that the values are not absolute; even if the blood alcohol level is below 1.1, it can still be considered an offense, particularly if alcohol-related driving errors result in an accident.
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Christian Janeczek clarifies that a blood alcohol level between 0.3 and 1.0 per thousand indicates a range of relative impairment to drive. Once the level reaches 1.1 per thousand, it becomes unequivocally clear that driving should not have occurred. Below 1.1 per thousand, the assessment becomes more nuanced, considering individual factors. At this point, the focus shifts to determining whether a driving error can be attributed to alcohol.
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Driving with a blood alcohol level between 0.5 and 1.09 per thousand is a misdemeanour in Germany
Driving with a blood alcohol level between 0.5 and 1.09 per thousand is a misdemeanour in Germany

When are fines and points applied?

If a driving error is determined to be related to alcohol, it becomes a criminal offense. The blood alcohol level is a crucial factor in this assessment. Generally, the closer one is to 1.1 per thousand, the more likely the courts will presume that the driving error was caused by alcohol. For blood alcohol levels between 0.5 and 1.0 per thousand, it is categorically considered a misdemeanour. The following penalties apply:

  • First time: €528.50 fine, 2 points, driving ban for 1 month.
  • 2nd time: €1053.50 fine, 2 points, 3 months driving ban.
  • 3rd time: €1578.50 fine, 2 points, 3 months driving ban.
  • Novice drivers: if you break the 0-alcohol rule  :   278.50 euros, 1 point, extension of the trial period.

Drunk driving in Germany, when it becomes a crime: 3 points and loss of driving license

Above the limit of 1.1 per thousand, it transitions from a misdemeanor to a criminal offense. Crossing this threshold makes the situation not only unpleasant but also expensive due to more severe legal consequences.

  • According to Janeczek, first-time offenders typically receive a fine of at least 30 daily fares – roughly a net monthly salary.
  • Driver’s license suspended for at least six months.
  • There are also 3 points, which will be deleted when the driver’s license is returned