Driving in Germany

German autobahn

Speed limits

When you travel abroad, it’s just as important to know how fast you’re allowed to drive in any given area, which is why we’ve put together this quick overview of speed limits in Germany:


Location

Speed
On the Autobahn       No set limit but recommended maximum of 130km/h (80mph)
In built-up areas 50km/h (30mph)
Outside built-up areas             100km/h (62mph)

 

Despite having a reputation for speed, there ARE speed limits on the Autobahn, although they're a little more relaxed and flexible than other nations. Keep an eye out for signs indicating the maximum speed, and be aware that these can vary between lanes. So, while parts of the Autobahn are great for putting your foot down, others will require you to ease off the pedal a little.

Here are some signs you should expect to see when travelling on the Autobahn:

German autobahn signs

German motorway signs

Driving etiquette

Many aspects of driving in Germany are similar to in the UK, for example it’s still necessary for all passengers to wear seatbelts, and using a phone while driving is illegal. However, there are still some differences worth thinking about.

Key Fact

In Germany, they drive on the right hand side of the road. While this may be obvious, a momentary lapse in concentration is all it requires to potentially land yourself in a tricky situation, so “think right” at all times.

Beer and pretzels

Alcohol limits

It’s never a wise idea to drive after drinking any amount of alcohol, as even a very small amount can impair your judgement and put you at risk of an accident. Of course, there’s also the potential of breaking the law.

To avoid being over the limit, take into consideration how the following can affect you:

  • Gender
  • Medication
  • Type and quality of alcohol consumed
  • Stress levels
  • Whether or not there is food in your stomach
  • Weight

Did You Know?

In Germany, having more than 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood will take you over the limit. This is considerably lower than the UK, where 80mg is allowed.

 

Here's a guide to the fines you could receive, should you be found driving over the limit in Germany:


Alcohol Level

First offence

Second offence

Third offence
Over 50mg in 100ml of blood €500     €1,000     €1,500    


However, these fines aren’t set in stone - if you’re considered to have endangered others, you’re at risk of being handed a very heavy fine, a driving ban, or even jail time.

  • Be aware that drivers under the age of 21, or those who have had their licence for less than two years are not permitted to have any alcohol in their system while behind the wheel. Those found even with a small amount can expect a fine of €250.
  • If you exceed the alcohol limit in Germany after being breathalysed or having taken a blood test, you can expect to be fined and potentially banned from driving in the country, depending on the level of the offence.

Insurance from Swinton and Safeguard

 

Driving abroad

Be sure to check out our other driving abroad guides:

 

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