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After having stopped at a red traffic light, seeing the intersection empty, I was about to get on by bike and turn right when a police officer behind me informed me that doing so would mean a €100 fine¹, so I walked around the corner and then got on my bike there. I did not get fined. Which makes me wonder:

Can the police officer issue a fine for clearly intending to commit a traffic violation, even if the police officer prevented me from doing so?


¹Although a general "right turn on red allowed for cyclists" has been discussed, such is currently not allowed in Germany.

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    For crimes the law explicitly defines attempted murder/estorsion/assault etc. So I'd say that if the german traffic laws don't have any article about an "attempted run-the-red-light" or a generic "attempted traffic violation" they can't fine you. – Giacomo Alzetta Aug 29 at 13:56
  • For crimes, yes, but a right turn on red is not a crime, is it? – gerrit Aug 29 at 14:05
  • that's just an analogy. If a crime requires a specific article to decide whether attempting it is itself a crime and how it should be punished, even more a smaller issue like a civil case requires a specific article of the law to achieve the same... – Giacomo Alzetta Aug 29 at 14:19
  • Different jurisdiction, but I had a college prof who was convicted for "thinking about not stopping" until he saw the parked police car. We could never figure that one out. He did not appeal due to the high cost of transcripts, attorney fees, etc. But I remain baffled how such a conviction and sentence could be lawfully rendered. Have you searched caselaw for violations on intent without committing? – mongo Aug 29 at 15:46
  • In German law a crime (Verbrechen) is something that is punishable with a minimum of 1 Year and no money fine. – Mark Johnson Aug 29 at 15:59
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General Question

Having an intention is never enough for punishments (both Strafe and Bußgeld) of the German state. But having an intention and be right at the start of doing the offense (details are complicated) is sometimes punished as an attempt of the offense (Versuch). This is defined in § 13 Ordnungswidrigkeitengesetz (Act on Regulatory Offences).

§ 13 OWiG (= §§ 22-24 Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code))

(1) Whoever, in accordance with his understanding of the act, takes a direct step towards the realisation of the factual elements of the offence, shall be deemed to have attempted a regulatory offence.

(2) The attempt may be sanctioned only if expressly provided by law.

(3) If the perpetrator voluntarily renounces further execution of the act or prevents its completion, he shall not be sanctioned for attempt. If the act will not be completed without the contribution of the abandoning party, his voluntary and earnest efforts to prevent its completion shall be sufficient.

(4) If more than one person participates in the act, the one who voluntarily prevents its completion shall not be sanctioned for an attempt. However, his voluntary and earnest efforts to prevent the completion of the act shall suffice if the act is not completed without his contribution or is committed independently of his earlier participation.

If you started the offense but stopped, so you don't fulfill offense, you don't get sanctioned, if you stopped voluntarily (freiwillig), § 13 III OWiG. (The details are more complicated.) This may be the case in your example, but beeing seen by a police officer is no reason for Freiwilligkeit. So you may have attempted the offence.

But an attempted offence gets only sanctioned if this is expressly provided by law, § 13 II OWiG. This is provided for no traffic violation. (But for some of the Straftaten in context of traffic, e.g. § 315b StGB Dangerous disruption of road traffic.)

So the answer to your question is a clear: No

Specific aspects of your case

I have searched the norms for your case, a red light offence for cyclist:

  • § 37 II Nr. 1, Nr. 2, Nr. 6 Straßenverkehrsordnung: the rules for traffic light
  • § 49 III Nr. 2 StVO: declaring violations of § 37 StVO as regulatory offences (legal basis: § 24 I Straßenverkehrsgesetz)
  • Nr. 132a Anlage 1 Bußgeldkatalog-Verordnung: sets 60 € fine for red ligth violations of cyclists (legal basis: § 1 I BKatV)
  • Nr. 132a Anlage 1 BKatV: sets 100 € fine for red ligth violations of cyclists after at least one second
  • Nr. 3.2.19 Anlage 13 Fahrerlaubnis-Verordnung: sets fine of one point in Fahreignungsregister (driving ability register) for these offences (legal basis: § 40 FeV)

In none of these laws a sanction for attempt is defined.

I'm not sure what you did after getting of your bike, you migth have violated the red ligth walking. For this you can get a 5 € fine (Nr. 130 Anlage 1 BKatV), strictly speaking not a Bußgeld (fine), but only a Verwarnungsgeld (warning fine).

But the competent authority can but doesn't have to sanction the offence, § 47 I OWiG. So the officer just didn't gave you the warning and thought it is OK.

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The only reason you did not complete your traffic offence was because the police officer stopped you from doing so.

Going through a red light could cause a death or serious injury to others or yourself. Red lights are generally set in positions where a proper overview is not generally possible.

Due to the serious nature of the offence (possible loss of life), the attempt is also punishable. A police officer has the authority to decide, in certain conditions, weather a fine is appropriate or not. In the case of red lights this is seldom the case.

So the answer to your question is yes.

Setting of fines is considered an Administrative act (Verwaltungakt) which the police are authorized to do.

Ermessensentscheidungen, § 114 S. 1 VwGO.

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    I would question that a right turn cycling at walking speed at an empty intersection is a possible loss of life when compared to doing exactly the same at the same speed on foot (which is allowed), which is why there is a good chance that in 5 years right turn on red for cyclists is going to be normally allowed (there are even places where it is normally allowed for motorists). But my question was not a moral one but a legal one. Do you have some sources for your answer? – gerrit Aug 29 at 14:04
  • @gerrit a pedestrian has the right of way, a cyclists does not. Just added an extra line that is also is true for a pedestrian. A right turn on a red light is allowed when a green arror is present. Source: Straßenverkehrs-Ordnung (StVO) – Mark Johnson Aug 29 at 14:11
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    Yes, so I can get off my bike, walk around the corner, and get on my bike again; I question the argument that there is a large difference in safety between walking (legal) and slowly cycling (illegal) when there is no other traffic. But that aspect is not relevant, as I am asking about the law. I know that a right turn on a red light is allowed if and only if there is a green arrow present. Does the StVO cover the intent of a traffic violation, which is what my question is about? – gerrit Aug 29 at 14:15
  • @gerrit a cyclist is bound by the StVO as any motorist. He can also recieve points against his drivers licence by going through a red light. Unless a Judge contradicts the judgement of the police, such decisions are often final. – Mark Johnson Aug 29 at 14:15
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    I was not caught doing so, I was caught attempting to do so and warned not to, and I was not fined. What I don't know, is whether I was not fined because the police officer was nice, or because I did not commit the offence. I know I'm not allowed to cycle through a red light, but your haven't linked a source as to whether an attempt at a traffic violation is treated identically to a successful traffic violation. – gerrit Aug 29 at 15:13

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