I have the right in Germany: “Escape from the scene of an accident”

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─ Hello dear editors! Thank you for your column “I have the right”.

Two weeks ago, driving out of the packing place, I accidentally hit a car parked nearby. The damage is minor, but the paint is damaged. Parking is located near several shops. I was with two children, however, I went into three shops closest to the parking lot and asked to call the owner of the car through the loudspeaker. Since no one responded, the owner never showed up, all the actions lasted more than 40 minutes, I couldn’t wait any longer. I wrote my address and contact phone number, saying that I hit the car and asked to contact me. But two weeks later I received a letter from the police, where they accused me of having fled the scene. I don’t understand how this can be? I left my details! I can also find witnesses, store employees, who advertised. Can I, in spite of this, be punished? What do i do? Help me please,

Anna K., Dusseldorf.

─ A short moment of inattention is often enough ─ and the other vehicle is already hurt when parking or maneuvering. Anyone who at such a moment simply turns around and leaves – commits not only in fact, but also legally, an escape from the scene of an accident. According to the law, even the smallest scratches or subtle dents are damage within the meaning of article 142 of the German Penal Code. And to be accused of this crime is much faster than most people think.

Anyone who leaves the scene and does not immediately report the incident to the police commits at that moment, in fact, to escape from the scene of the accident. It doesn’t matter how serious the damage is. Contrary to popular belief among motorists, attaching a note with a phone number to the windshield of an injured and damaged car is not enough. The degree of damage inflicted is not essential for determining the corpus delicti. It is also not enough to leave your contact details to random witnesses or local residents who come up. And even if you leave your car at the accident site, without leaving and without parking it, without taking care of the proper recording of the accident by the police or the owner of the damaged vehicle, this will not save the perpetrator of the accident from trouble. Such a mistake can have far-reaching and costly consequences.

The punishment framework of article 142 of the German Penal Code provides for sanctions ranging from a monetary fine to 3 years in prison. In addition, as a rule, additional sanctions are applied, such as entry of items into the register of traffic offenders in Flensburg, a ban on driving a vehicle for a certain period or revocation of a driver’s license. The more significant the damage, the more severe the punishment.

Given the jurisprudence, one can roughly start from the following. In case of damage of up to 600 euros, an open business can be closed by paying a small monetary contribution to a non-profit organization or paying a fine.

For damages of up to € 1,300, a fine of 30 days’ wages (one month’s salary) is often imposed, two points in Flensburg’s traffic offenders register and a ban on driving for up to three months, depending on the circumstances of the case.

For damages in excess of EUR 1,300, the court will usually proceed from “significant damage”. You should count on: deprivation of a driver’s license (at least six months), three points in Flensburg and a monetary fine depending on the amount of material damage.

Any sanctions depend on the circumstances of a particular case and are not legal advice or a substitute for it.

What is not considered a violation?

The culprit of the accident can leave the scene in order to report the fact of the traffic accident to the nearest police station, to ask for help if he is injured or to provide assistance to other participants in the accident. In addition, removal is legitimate if it is necessary to eliminate the source of danger emanating from the object or location of the accident.

If the perpetrator of the accident only damaged his own car, he can also continue driving, without this being considered an escape. By the way, as a rule, it is not possible to exclude the fact of damage to the property of third parties during a cursory examination. If a road sign or fence is damaged, it is required to inform the police or the state body in whose sphere of responsibility this thing is located.

If a road sign or guardrail is damaged, it is recommended to contact the police or the competent authority directly by telephone.

We will tell you about the consequences of insurance legislation for a person who has committed an accident and left the scene of the accident, and what payments the insurance company will make or what kind of compensation it will demand from the culprit in the next issue of the newspaper.

Ksenia KRUG, lawyer,

Schanzenstraße 102, 40549 Düsseldorf,

info@krug-recht.de, 0211 16377014,


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