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Recently I traveled to Germany with friends and got a bit too much drunk. While walking to my hotel I fell down and damaged my foot. Police approached me, checked my ID (I am from the EU), asked if I took drugs (I said no and I didn't), helped me to book a taxi and I left. They didn't arrest me or anything of the sort, nor did they issue a ticket.

Now I am super scared... I am afraid that they will send me the fine by mail and report to my work...

What could be the punishment for that?

I did a research and found the following in German criminal code: Section 323a Intoxication

(1) Whoever intentionally or negligently puts themselves into a state of intoxication by consuming alcoholic drinks or other intoxicating substances incurs a penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine if they commit an unlawful act whilst in this state and cannot be punished on account thereof because they lacked criminal responsibility due to the intoxication or if this cannot be ruled out.

(2) The penalty may not be more severe than the penalty provided for the offence which was committed in a state of intoxication.

(3) The offence is prosecuted only upon request, upon authorisation or request by a foreign state if the act which was committed in a state of intoxication can be prosecuted only upon request, authorisation or request by a foreign state.

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  • also, what is "cannot be punished on account thereof because they lacked criminal responsibility due to the intoxication or if this cannot be ruled out"? I can not understand...
    – AnTlr
    Mar 10 at 15:11
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    Under German law, to be guilty of a crime you don't just have to commit some act, you also have to be able to understand what you're doing. For example, children and intoxicated people have impaired judgement. But by itself this would be a loophole, e.g. if someone deliberately gets drunk before committing a murder. This paragraph closes that loophole because intentional or negligent intoxication is no excuse. So a driver can't say “sorry officer, I was too drunk to know that I shouldn't be driving”. The intoxication itself is not punishable, though.
    – amon
    Mar 10 at 16:29
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    I am afraid that they will send me the fine by mail and report to my work... Reporting to your work would be a huge breach of confidentiality. It is not your boss'job to know what to do during your free time, and it is not the German police's to inform your boss. Also, relax, because A) most probably, as David states, you will not be fined, and B) if you are fined anyway, that you are afraid or not will not change what you have to do (pay the fine). There is nothing to gain by being worried about something you do not control.
    – SJuan76
    Mar 10 at 20:18
  • Very unlikely they'll report to your work Mar 10 at 22:28
  • Being drunk in public is the least hunted down crime in Germany... There are more insult lawsuits and criminal insult (of an officer) prosecuted each year than fines for getting drunk in public.
    – Trish
    Aug 27 at 8:58

2 Answers 2

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also, what is "cannot be punished on account thereof because they lacked criminal responsibility due to the intoxication or if this cannot be ruled out"? I can not understand

This means that if a person, while drunk, does soemthign that would otherwise be a crime, but the person cannot be charged because s/he was too drunk to know that s/he was committing a crime, such a person can insted be charged with having become intoxicated, and given up to the same punishment that would have been given for conviction for doign the unlawful act.

For example, if a person damaged property while under the influence of alcohol (drunk), it might be impossible under German law to prosecute for the crime of intentionally damaging property, because one could not prove that the person knew what s/he was doing, and knew that it was criminal. In such a case the person could be charged with having intentionally or carelessly become drunk, but the penalty can't be more than the penalty for having damaged property would have been, nor can it be more than five years.

As a practical matter, I think it very unlikely that the police would seek to impose a fine if they didn't issue any ticket or other paperwork at the scene, nor mention any such intention. However, they might be legally able to do so.

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  • The fact that I was not arrested is already great, but what if they didn't give me the ticket at that time cause it would have been risky that I drop it on my way home?
    – AnTlr
    Mar 10 at 15:48
  • @AnTlr They could still have testified later that they gave it to you, and then mailed you a copy. But of course I cannot be sure what they will do. Mar 10 at 15:53
  • if they want to, how long does it normally take to issue the letter from them?
    – AnTlr
    Mar 10 at 15:54
  • @AnTlr I have no idea about the time in which such a fine might be issued. Mar 10 at 16:52
  • It’s an interesting solution. Australia just decided that self-induced intoxication can’t be used as a defense instead. Either, either.
    – Dale M
    Mar 10 at 21:17
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[…] I traveled to Germany […] and got a bit too much drunk. While walking to my hotel I fell down and damaged my foot. Police approached me, […]. They didn't arrest me or anything of the sort, nor did they issue a ticket.

[…] What could be the punishment for that?

  1. It is not a crime to get drunk in public
  2. But it or the things you do could be an administrative offense (Ordnungswidrigkeit).
    1. Some cities impose a general ban on consumption, carriage, and selling of alcohol during night. For instance in downtown Bremen you could’ve been fined.
    2. In general: Drunk people frequently commit “public nuisance”, § 118 OWiG, for instance peeing in public. Here, the act of peeing is fined, though, not drunkenness.
  3. Again, getting or simply being drunk is neither a crime nor an administrative offense.

Police […] asked if I took drugs […]

Merely being on drugs is neither a crime nor an administrative offense. The Narcotics Act punishes possession, trade, and production of drugs.

I did a research and found the following in German criminal code: Section 323a Intoxication

§ 323a StGB is bit of an anomaly in German law. It actually punishes you if the purpose of being drunk (or on drugs) is to commit crimes you can’t be convicted of because the court found you incapacitated, § 20 StGB, i. e. not guilty by reasons of intoxication.

If you get shitfaced for “recreational purposes” and happen to damage property, you can’t be convicted of either crime; the German society generally “approves” of drinking alcohol for “recreation” and consciously accepts the risk of the occasional troublemaker. Nevertheless, you’re still liable to damages, but that’s tort law.

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  • thank you! it is interesting actually, cause in some EU countries it is not legal to be drunk in public. it is sort of equivalent to peeing or walking around saying bad things. Thank you for the reply!
    – AnTlr
    Mar 11 at 10:02
  • @AnTlr Germany has a strange connection to alcohol: Germans have feasts with the sole reason to drink as much alcohol as possible (Brewery feasts, Octoberfest etc,) and generally people accept seeing drunks late at night on the way home from a party.
    – Trish
    Aug 27 at 9:01
  • A British colleague of mine went to the Oktoberfest in Munich and was totally perplexed how you can have 2,500 people drunk in a place and no fights. In the Uk, it would be murder. In Germany misbehaving while drunk shows you as the lowest of low lives, you just don’t do that. If you are a man, you can get drunk and not misbehave. If not, you’re not a man.
    – gnasher729
    Aug 27 at 12:26

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