If there is a justifiable emergency, you can drive faster than allowed – but the limits for this case are tight. Even those who want to take their child to the hospital quickly are not necessarily included, explains legal expert Michael Winter.
A sensational case is currently causing a stir. It’s about a father who drove his unconscious child to the hospital in his own car. He was given a one-month driving ban by the local court responsible for speeding, which he committed with a police escort.
Now, many are asking, not without good reason, whether mercy can prevail in such exceptional situations. Let’s take a look at the legal perspective.
In the special case, the two-year-old daughter of a foreign citizen (who, like his wife, speaks little German) was seriously ill and when he came home, apparently unconscious.
The father did not call an ambulance, but got in the car to drive the daughter to the nearest hospital as quickly as possible.
On the way, he was stopped by the police because he was not wearing a seat belt. When she understood the emergency, she even escorted him to the hospital. On this route, both vehicles (the father’s and the police car) were recorded by a speedometer.
A fine with a driving ban was issued against the father. He lodged an objection – it came to the main hearing before the district court. The district judge reduced the fine during the oral hearing, but allowed the driving ban to remain in place.
He argued as follows:
Reliable support in legal conflicts.
For everyone in a similar situation, the question arises of how to deal with such a situation.
Depending on the federal state, it can take up to 15 minutes for the rescue service to arrive on site – in thousands of cases this time is significantly exceeded.
In these cases, however, the case law is usually inexorable. Another example:
The doctor lost in court. The Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court came to the conclusion that one could refrain from punishing a speed violation if there was an emergency situation – but in the specific case it did not see such a situation.
A speed violation is only a suitable means if all other means would not have been available. The argument that an RTW (ambulance) takes much longer than the doctor with a private car did not catch on. After all, the RTW can fall back on special rights and rights of way (flashing lights and siren) and is therefore faster.
The argument of disinfection was also thrown out by the court – a person’s life cannot be balanced with hygiene measures. A speed violation for private trips is only acceptable in exceptional cases; such a case does not exist here.
Lawyer Michael Winter studied law in Tübingen and has been working in the field of traffic law since 1989. As a lecturer at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University, he also shares his experience in the academic field. The company he founded, “WHW Seminar
But when is an emergency actually to be assumed?
Let me give you three practical examples:
In one of its decisions, the Higher Regional Court of Celle provided what I consider to be a reasonable definition of what can be considered an emergency. Here’s what happened:
The Higher Regional Court put forward the following reasoning:
“The district court found that the person concerned told the detention officer that he had exceeded the speed because he wanted to rush to help his mother who had fallen when no other help was available. Even taking into account the fact that this alone is not sufficient to justify exceeding the speed limit in accordance with Section 16 OWiG, it is nevertheless recognized that a traffic violation committed with the intention of rescuing can lead to a situation in which all relevant circumstances are weighed and the The driver of the vehicle cannot be held responsible for this traffic violation as a gross breach of duty (cf. Cologne Higher Regional Court, loc.cit.; KG Berlin, loc.cit.).
The reason given by the person concerned for the speeding, if the person concerned should have believed that he was entitled to the speeding, which has not yet been conclusively determined, represents at best an avoidable error of law that does not affect the guilty verdict for intentional violation (cf. Cologne Higher Regional Court, loc.cit.). However, an avoidable error of law can in principle cast the act in a milder light. Even if the person concerned erroneously assumes that there is a state of emergency, the court must therefore examine whether, as an exception, the imposition of the normal driving ban can be waived.
As you can see, there are still – albeit very few – exceptions in which one can invoke the argument of the state of emergency.