Criminal traffic law

A little carelessness or a risky overtaking maneuver, one too many beers or overlooking a traffic light: situations very often arise in road traffic that cause an accident, which in turn can result in property damage or even personal injury. Since such incidents occur on the road every day, it is not surprising that traffic offenses make up a significant portion of criminal law practice. Caution: Criminal liability can exist even without any accidents or damage.

In contrast to a traffic offense, which is punished with a driver's license suspension, a warning or a fine, an offense under criminal traffic law is sanctioned with a fine or imprisonment. Offenses committed in connection with road traffic can sometimes result in substantial prison sentences. For example, Sections 315b and 315c of the German Criminal Code (StGB) provide for prison sentences of up to five years. The accused of a traffic offense thus faces particularly drastic measures.

The provisions of criminal traffic law are predominantly found in the German Criminal Code (Strafgesetzbuch, StGB). In particular, the 28th section of the Criminal Code (§§ 306 - 323c StGB), which regulates the common criminal offenses, contains a large number of criminal offenses relevant to traffic law. However, criminal traffic law has not been conclusively regulated by the legislature in the Criminal Code (StGB). Offenses can also be found in secondary legislation, such as the Road Traffic Act (StVG) or the Compulsory Insurance Act (PflVG).

The most relevant criminal offenses in practice are:

  • Unauthorized removal from the scene of an accident (§ 142 StGB)
  • Bodily injury offenses (cf. §§ 223, 224, 226, 229, 230 StGB), especially negligent bodily injury or negligent homicide in road traffic
  • .

  • Coercion (§ 240 StGB)
  • Dangerous interference with road traffic (§315b StGB)
  • Danger to road traffic (§ 315c StGB)
  • Drunkenness in traffic (§316 StGB)
  • Full intoxication (§ 323a StGB)
  • Driving without a license (§ 21 StVG)

Threatening consequences - driving ban (§ 44 StGB) and revocation of driving license (§ 69 StGB)

Already the imposed fine or imprisonment may represent a particularly severe evil for the person concerned. In addition, the recognizing court has the option of imposing a driving ban or revoking the driving license. The effects of a driving ban pursuant to Section 44 of the Criminal Code or the revocation of the driving license pursuant to Section 69 of the Criminal Code often only become painfully apparent to the person concerned after the final conviction.

A driving ban (§ 44 StGB) means for the person concerned that the court can prohibit him or her from driving a motor vehicle in road traffic for a period of one month to six months. In this case, the driver's license is only temporarily revoked. After the period of prohibition has elapsed, the driver's license will be issued again ex officio.

A much more drastic measure, on the other hand, is the revocation of the driver's license pursuant to Section 69 of the Criminal Code. If the offense shows that the person concerned is unsuitable to drive a motor vehicle, i.e. represents a danger to other road users, the court can revoke his driving license. The convicted person must first apply to the relevant driving license authority for a new driving license to be issued. However, before a new license can be issued, the offender must wait for a period of disqualification, which can be set by the court for a period of six months to five years (Section 69a of the Criminal Code). Often, the convicted person is also subject to certain conditions that can be imposed on him by the driving license authority. The most well-known requirement is the submission of a positive medical-psychological examination.

Blood alcohol concentration

Traffic offenses are not infrequently related to the consumption of alcohol. Defendants accused of driving a motor vehicle under intoxicating substances or alcoholic beverages must therefore expect a blood sample to be taken in accordance with Section 81a of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

The following limits are relevant in criminal traffic law and traffic offenses:

from 0.3 promille - relative driving incapacity:.
From 0.3 per mille you are already considered relatively unfit to drive. If, in addition, failure symptoms are added, such as driving in serpentines, the accusation of a criminal liability under § 316 StGB is in the room. The endangerment of persons and/or material goods does not require it for this.

from 0.5 per mille - administrative offense.
If a promille value of 0.5 is reached, the accused faces a fine and a driving ban.

ab 1,1 Promille - absolute driving incapacity (motor vehicle).
Provided that a vehicle is driven in road traffic with a blood alcohol concentration from 1.1 per mille, the driver is considered to be absolutely unfit to drive; regardless of whether he shows signs of failure. The absolute inability to drive is rather irrefutably assumed. In addition to a fine or imprisonment for drunk driving (§ 316 StGB), the loss of the driver's license under § 69 StGB or a driving ban under § 44 StGB threatens.

from 1.6 per mille - absolute driving incapacity (bicycle).
For cyclists, a different promille value applies. An absolute driving incapacity is irrefutably presumed if a cyclist has reached a promille value of 1.6 promille. Provided that the bicycle was driven in traffic, a fine or imprisonment threatens also in this case because of drunkenness in traffic (§ 316 StGB). In this case, the cyclist may also be threatened with a revocation of the driver's license in accordance with Section 69 of the Criminal Code; regardless of whether he or she has driven a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol in road traffic.


In addition to extensive knowledge of criminal law, a successful defense against an accusation of a traffic offense requires special knowledge of traffic law. Our attorneys at H2W have successfully defended numerous clients in criminal traffic law.