Sunday 25 February 2018

Germany plans driving bans for crimes other than traffic offences

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas. Photo: Reuters
German Justice Minister Heiko Maas. Photo: Reuters

Justin Huggler

Germany has announced plans to allow courts to impose driving bans as a punishment for crimes other than traffic offences. The scheme could be used to target young offenders, according to MPs.

"We will introduce a bill this year to make the withdrawal of driving licences a possible sanction for a variety of offences," Heiko Maas, the justice minister, said.

"There are cases, such as with very wealthy offenders, in which a fine has no effect. A driving disqualification, on the other hand, would have noticeable effects.

"The courts will be able to decide in individual cases."

Under current German laws, driving bans are only imposed for serious traffic offences such as severe speeding and drink-driving.

The government has not yet announced which crimes it will be extended to, but a spokesman for MPs from Angela Merkel's Christian Democrat party (CDU) said young offenders could be targeted.

"Particularly with adolescents and young adults, for whom a car is often a special status symbol, a driving disqualification is a much more drastic and severe sanction than a suspended sentence would be," Stephen Mayer said.

There have been calls for driving bans to be extended to a number of offences, including tax evasion.

Manuela Schwesig, the minister for women and families, has proposed six-month driving bans as punishment for absentee parents who fail to pay child support.

The German police union welcomed the plans. "This proposal has been discussed for years. It's a sensible idea," Rainer Wendt, the union's leader, said, adding that many offenders were able to pay fines "out of petty cash".

Mr Wednt suggested a driving ban could also be imposed as a punishment for posting hate speech on social media.

The German motoring organisation ADAC, however, is opposed to the plans.

Irish Independent

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