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HEIDELBERG, Germany — German officials have issued a slew of new traffic laws that could mean fines — and potentially lost driver’s licenses — for those who don’t brush up on the new road rules.

The new regulations went into effect April 1. Several changes add points against the violator’s license. Under German law, licenses are revoked if 21 points are accumulated.

According to Herbert Schoenhaar, a liaison between German police and the U.S. Army, the changes and additions include:

¶ Cell phones — Fines for using a cell phone without a “hands-free” device while driving have gone up from 30 euros to 40 euros — about $37.50 to $50. In addition, one point will be assessed.

¶ Biking and phones — Cyclists are no longer exempt from the cell phone rule. Bikers will pay 25 euros if caught using a cell phone without a hands-free device. While there’s no point assessed if the German police catch you, military police in Germany can slap a two-point fine against a U.S. Army Europe license.

¶ Buses and seat belts — If buses have seat belts, you must use them or face a 30-euro fine.

¶ Drag racing — Speedsters face a 1,000-euro fine, four points, and a one-month suspension if caught racing on public roads.

¶ Wrong way — If drivers survive going the wrong way around a traffic circle, police can hit them with a 20-euro fine.

¶ Tight parking — Motorists who block emergency vehicles by parking on a too-narrow street, can be fined between 35 and 50 euros, “depending on the situation,” Schoenhaar said.

¶ For big rigs — Long accused of “elephant racing” on the autobahn, commercial truckers face a 40-euro fine for passing one another too slowly. Private vehicles, however, that linger too long in the passing lane are not subject to the new fine, Schoenhaar said.

According to an Army announcement, various police forces in Germany “will be increasing checks on these various traffic violations during the coming weeks to encourage people to do the right thing and drive safely.”


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