GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — It is unlawful for drivers to exceed posted or implied speed limits. Penalties can mean steep fines, points on a license and even a long-term driving suspension or revocation. Moreover, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria community members who are caught speeding must deal with two sets of law enforcement: on-post military police and off-post host nation Polizei.
According to the Army in Europe Regulation 190-1 and USAG Bavaria Directorate of Emergency Services, MPs cannot issue out speeding tickets that stipulate fines. Instead officers will issue an Armed Forces Traffic Citation to drivers caught violating traffic laws. After a citation is given to a driver, the MP office sends notification to the driver’s commander, sponsor’s commander, or supervisor. The commander or supervisor will levy points against the driver.
Drivers who accumulate multiple citations run the risk of having their license suspended. A year-long suspension of the USAREUR license occurs when either 12 points are earned over the course of a year, or 18 points are earned over two years. Additionally, drivers cited for operating at a speed of 30 kph, or greater, over the posted speed limit on U.S. installations will incur a mandatory 30 day suspension of their USAREUR driver’s license. They will be apprehended and either transported to the nearest Military Police Station, or released to their unit or supervisor, with a Notice of Suspension Memorandum.
“The largest concentration of speeders continues to be on the tank trail, One Community Road and Netzaberg Hill,” said Robert Beaty, chief of police with USAG Bavaria. “The MPs are enforcing speeding and no passing laws in these areas at all hours of the day and night. We are concerned due to wildlife, increased number of tactical vehicles due to Defender-21, and the overall safety of community members.”
While officers enforce speeding laws throughout the community, DES leadership said they will target critical areas on-post to enforce traffic and safety laws. During the summer months, MPs are scheduled to setup random on-post checkpoints to enforce seatbelt usage, discourage drivers from becoming distracted by their phones and verify that drivers have the required safety equipment.
Unlike American police, who often clock speed manually, German Polizei tend to rely on speed cameras to catch drivers who put the pedal to the metal.
When a speeding driver gets photographed by a speed camera off-post, the Polizei sends the owner of the vehicle a questionnaire — asking for basic information like a name and address. The owner must then send back the questionnaire completely filled out, before the legal office and unit are notified about the misdeed. According to garrison officials, when Soldiers and family members get in trouble for neglected traffic tickets, it is usually due to confusion surrounding the German language questionnaire.
“If community members receive a German traffic ticket, they can bring it to the Rose Barracks Military Police Station at building 2099,” said Beaty. “Ask to speak with German Police Officer Mr. Tobias Lorenz. He will assist with translation and any questions about the ticket. He will also provide directions on how to pay the ticket.”
Driving a few kilometers over the speed limit off-post will usually warrant a minor fine from German Polizei, but blatant violations of the speed limit will often result in points, heavy fines and license suspension. A license suspension is the most debilitating penalty for drivers — typically lasting anywhere from one to three months, and it is coupled with a fine of 80 euros or more.
According to Beaty, police officers do not issue speeding tickets with the intention of making money.
“We just want to enforce safety standards across the community,” he said. “The only way we can do that is by issuing citations and notifying the individual’s command.”