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How should a company and a driver who is subject to a BAG inspection behave – e.g. in connection with suspicions of exceeding permitted cabotage, working hours, maximum driving times or non-compliance with rest periods? Here are some tips to help you appeal against the fine.

Stage I – stopping the vehicle for inspection

In most cases, the German police or BAG will impose a deposit on any subsequent fines if they find any irregularities after the inspection. Contrary to the misconception of many drivers and operators, they must be aware that the document issued as a result of a roadside check and the fee charged is not yet a penalty notice.

The fee demanded by the German police is only a deposit for a penalty notice that has yet to be issued. When a driver pays a deposit upon receipt of a so-called ‘inspection protocol’ (‘Kontrollschein’), he does not make a declaration of acceptance of the penalty notice but merely provides a deposit to secure a possible fine.

Unfortunately, the discussion with the police at this stage is fruitless and does not, in principle, have any effect at this point other than to withhold registration plates, registration documents or the entire vehicle until the deposit has been paid.

Stage II – responding to BAG/German police allegations

After the inspection and the payment of a deposit, the carrier and/or the driver may respond to the allegations made. At this point in time, the operator has the opportunity to be heard and to provide any documentation that may have been missing beforehand, for which he is in most cases given a period of two weeks.

At this stage, it is necessary to provide your version of the events, send the documents requested, and respond to the allegations made from the factual point of view.

Stage III – penalty notice (German: Bußgeldbescheid)

Regardless of whether the driver and/or the operator concerned provides clarifications within two weeks, the relevant law enforcement authority will issue a decision on the final penalty notice. As a general rule, at the hearing, the amount of the fine will be covered by the deposit or it will be higher and the authority will credit the deposit towards the fine. The driver and/or the operator have two weeks from the date of delivery of this decision to appeal. In the event of non-appeal, the decision shall become final and enforceable.

How to act?

In the first stage, it is best to remain silent, because as a rule, any attempt to avoid payment of the deposit is ineffective. The greatest gains can be made at the clarification stage and after the issuing of the penalty notice. In almost all cases, the reasons that will have to be considered as mitigating or reducing the fine can be given.

Photo: Wikimedia/Dg-505 CC A 3.0

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