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During a trip to Germany in May, I accrued (unknowingly) three speeding tickets from automated ticketing cameras throughout the picturesque countryside. The reason I know that the tickets exist is because of the three letters I received from the rental car company informing me that they will be levying a fee on my credit card, 20 euros for each ticket, for the service of passing along my address in the United States to the respective ticketing agencies. That was at the beginning of July.

Now, more than three months after the violation occurred, I have yet to see any mail regarding these tickets. Do I have any obligation that I'm not fulfilling by just waiting for the tickets to arrive? Will I be blamed for paying them late? Is there a way to pay a ticket that you haven't seen?

Out of curiosity, not because I want to utilize this route, what happens if I don't pay them? What leverage can the ticketing agency apply to get me to pay them? Would that prevent me from renting a car? anywhere or just in Germany?

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I had two from France recently. The French did follow up (a week or so after the car rental company' notifications) but there is a good chance Germany won't bother for a US citizen. If they don't you are not risking anything since the car rental company's fees are not official notification of your offences, merely that they were asked to provide details that cost them some administrative effort you had agreed to accept being passed on.

Maybe I should emphasise that, had you received notification of your offence from an authorised body and had chosen to ignore it or merely overlooked it then there might well be consequences, at least if returning to or attempting to return to Germany, or possibly in attempting to visit another EU nation. However since you have not received notification after a more than reasonable interval you are "home and dry" and should not expect any further consequences from that offence.

So:

what happens if I don't pay them?

Nothing.

What leverage can the ticketing agency apply to get me to pay them?

For a start, send you a bill - why they have not.

Would that prevent me from renting a car?

No.

anywhere or just in Germany?

Nowhere nor Germany.

  • 2
    "won't bother for a US citizen" - would you know why? Never heard something like that apart from the US not extraditing their citizens on principle. Which would hardly be applicable to a speeding ticket anyways. – hiergiltdiestfu Sep 7 '16 at 6:28
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I am German and I have been living in Austria and got a speeding ticket with a rental car when visiting my hometown. What happened was that the car rental company charged me 20€ to give away my details such as in your case. After a few weeks without hearing anything I contacted the rental company again asking for the proof for passing on the details and it seemed like they never did and came up with some problem in communication and so on.

As far as I know in Germany things like this get stored really long and you may want to follow up with your rental company to get the details they forwarded and to who. This will also be proof in a later case if an official will get back to you asking for why you didn´t respond or anything.

So I would do this and check for some sort of documents before feeling safe.

  • I did not say they never did, I said it was mentioned and also in written email that there was a apparently a glitch in the system and with the communication of the details. – Klettseb Sep 7 '16 at 9:35
  • Hey, ok sorry for the confusion then. After i contacted them and asked for the proof I got contacted by the authorities. But this was only due to the fact that i got already some mail in germany to my 2nd residential address back then. So at the end i paid all including the fee for the rental company. – Klettseb Sep 7 '16 at 16:17
  • Id was from my 2nd hometown – Klettseb Sep 7 '16 at 16:53
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As long as the rental agency had your real address and you are reachable there you don't need to worry. If a ticket is issued (which is not certain based on your description – they might decide it's not worth it) it will be send to that address.

For most traffic violations (not all!) the relevant authority need to ensure a letter from them has reached you within three months of the violation. If that doesn't happen it can't be enforced. This is by § 26 Abs. 3 StVG and § 33 Abs. 1 S. 1 Nr. 9 OWiG. If there were special circumstances this could be extended for up to two years (§ 33 Abs. 3 S. 2 OWiG). Note that for severe violations including driving under influence and crimes longer deadlines apply.

Only in very exceptional circumstances (they can't find a place where they can contact you even after trying) a ticket can be validly issued without you knowing. In that case they will try to collect the fine next time they can (e.g. at the border).

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    "need to ensure" - however, there are court decisions that this does not have to be done via i.e. registered mail. I remember a decision concerning a federal institution, the Arbeitsagentur, that they can assume a letter reached you (in mainland Germany) three days after they put it in the regular mail. So in your case, the tickets might have been issued, but lost in the mail. – hiergiltdiestfu Sep 7 '16 at 6:25
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    @hiergiltdiestfu For letters within Germanys such decisions are not unheard of as the postal system is incredibly reliable – so unless you can present evidence that you haven't gotten the letter it's assumed you have. The burden of proof is on the authorities and the "post is reliable" argument isn't going to fly as soon as it comes to international mail. I've never even heard of anyone trying to use that argument in court. – neo Sep 7 '16 at 6:58
  • @neo, thank you for the response. Do you have anything to back up the "three months" theory? Maybe a link to a local authority that states something along those lines? – speedfranklin Sep 7 '16 at 14:41
  • @speedfranklin See my updated answer. The referenced laws are unfortunately in German only. I don't think there will ever be a local authority stating that this clearly on their website but third-party summaries (with all the fine details) can easily be found on Google (in German). – neo Sep 7 '16 at 15:44

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