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STUTTGART, Germany — By the end of the month, U.S. Army Europe hopes to provide vehicle registration offices with emissions-rating decals that now are required to drive into some city centers in Germany.

The decals would identify which vehicles are allowed to be driven in city centers. Older, higher-polluting cars would not get decals and not be allowed in some downtowns.

Berlin, Cologne and Hannover enacted the law on New Year’s Day — a violation of which could result in a 40-euro fine, or about $59. Stuttgart and Mannheim are scheduled to enforce the law starting March 1, with other German cities to follow if they choose.

Workers at vehicle registration offices at U.S. installations are awaiting the stickers, which they would then issue, free of charge, to vehicle registrants.

“A lot of people have been asking,” said Barry Calloway, a supervisor at Heidelberg’s vehicle registration office. “We’ve seen nothing on our end yet. It’s not affecting us here locally yet, but it will be.”

“We have no information yet,” said Silvia Smith, a supervisor at Stuttgart’s vehicle registration office. “We don’t even know how we’re going to issue them or when.”

Smith said the law has been discussed and delayed for months.

“We had a lot of calls this week on it,” Smith said, as people started hearing about the new law on German newscasts. “Some people have (wondered) about being exempt under the (status of forces agreement) law.”

They won’t be exempt: The law will apply to all vehicles registered in Germany.

Registration employees in Vilseck and Baumholder also said they were awaiting word on the stickers.

Diesel-powered cars made before 1997 and gas-powered cars made before 1993 will get no sticker and will be prohibited in environmental protection zones, called Umweltzonen. Diesel cars from 1997 to 2000 would get a red decal, permitting them to be driven for only five more years in the zones.

Other, newer vehicles would be issued either yellow or green decals and would have lesser or no restrictions placed on them.

“We have not published a specific implementation plan,” said Lt. Col. Richard Spiegel, a USAREUR spokesman. “The scheduled goal is to have the decals at vehicle registration offices and available by the end of month.”

Spiegel added that the designated cities are expected to establish grace periods for enforcing the decal law. Markus Fliege, a spokesman with the environmental office in North Rhine-Westphalia, said there will be a grace period in Cologne.

“For the first (violation) there will be a warning,” Fliege said. “In April it will become strict.”

Motorists also can obtain a new emissions decal with the appropriate certification from an approved repair facility or authorized agencies such as TüV or DEKRA.


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