Driving licence in Germany
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|Driving licence in Germany|
German EU driving license card (2013 layout)
|Purpose||Proof of permission to legally operate a motor vehicle|
In Germany the driving licence ("Führerschein") is a governmental privilege given to those who request a licence for any of the categories they desire. It is required for every type of motorised vehicle with the exception of the smallest mopeds below 50cm³, with a speed limit of 25km/h, as well as motorised bicycles (even for these, there is a minimum age of 15 years and a small mandatory driving school course). The types of licences one may obtain are the same in all the European Economic Area. See European driving licence. The minimum age to obtain a driving licence is: 16 years for a restricted motorcycle up to 125 cm³, 17 years for a car with a legal guardian, 18 years for unrestricted car and 21 years for buses and cargo vehicles.
Obtaining a driving licence
The German driving licence can be obtained after finishing driving school and passing a two-stage test, the theory test and road test. Before being allowed to take these tests an eye-exam must have been performed and a first-aid course (usually lasts 8 hours) completed.
The learner driver's training usually takes place in legally authorised and mostly privately owned, for-profit driving schools. The driving school handles all the necessary paperwork for the students, such as: applying for a licence, registering for tests etc.
The theoretical part of the education comprises lessons at the driving school, held by legally authorised driving instructors, typically in the evening. The content and number of the lessons is set by law and depending on the type of licence the student wishes to acquire; a different number of lessons has to be attended. Remarkably enough, a student does not have to attend different lessons, they could theoretically attend the same lesson several times to meet the criteria. Lessons are divided into general knowledge about road rules that anyone studying for any licence might attend and specialised lessons for certain types of vehicles. To prepare for the written theory test, students usually obtain a study package from the driving school which can consist of software programmes, textbooks and sample exam papers. Schools usually take responsibility for their students' success and thus keep track of class attendance and hand out sample exams for practising. The theory test is a multiple-choice test consisting of randomised questions from a published guidebook. Thus the questions and correct answers can be studied in advance.
Practical training also takes place with driving school instructors. Specially labelled and fitted vehicles are provided by the driving school. Cars are usually dual control (feature extra mirrors and pedals for the instructor so that they can take control of the vehicle in dangerous situations) since driving and parking maneuvers are taught on public roads. For motorcycles, the student operates the motorcycle on their own with a driving instructor following in another vehicle and giving instruction via radio. A certain number of practical and technical lessons has to be completed again depending on the type of vehicle. Obligatory lessons include a minimum number of lessons each driving on: the motorway Autobahn; rural areas, and in the dark. The actual number of lessons a student completes varies with individual skill. As the most difficult part of the driving test is usually urban driving, most lessons actually take place there, even though there is no mandated minimum for that.
If a student wishes to be tested in a car with an automatic transmission and sits the road test in such a car, a code or note will be added to the licence and the holder will only be permitted drive cars with an automatic transmission. A test passed on a manual transmission car also gives qualification to drive either manual or automatic.
Theoretical and practical training may be commenced at the same or different times. Some driving schools may insist a student attend a certain number of lessons before giving out appointments for driving lessons.
Both exams are held by an authorised inspector who visits the driving school for this purpose. Students must pass the theory test before sitting the road test, with no more than a twelve-month gap between the two. During the road test, the driving instructor is present in the car with the assisting features of the driving school car deactivated or connected to audio signals and a warning light (if the instructor has to intervene, the test will result in failure.)
After each exam, results are immediately given to the students. In case of the road test, if the student meets all the required criteria, the licence is handed over by the inspector. Should the student, for any reason, not be allowed to hold the licence at the time of a successful test (for example because he has not yet reached the minimum age), the licence will be sent to the Kraftfahrzeug-Zulassungsbehörde (compare DMV DVLA) of the student's place of residence where it can be picked up as soon as the person becomes eligible. There are limits on the frequency and the time elapsed before failed tests can be reattempted.
The failure rate for driving tests in 2011 was 28%. Automobile associations have given the opinion that this is due to the low quality of the education at driving schools as it benefits their income if students take additional lessons after failing.
For cars, people aged seventeen do not get a standard driving licence after passing all required tests. Instead a permission slip that only allows for driving a car under the supervision of persons meeting certain criteria as stated on the permission slip. The actual driving licence becomes available upon the person's eighteenth birthday.
The cost of obtaining a licence for driving a car is on average €1,400 (US$1,800 in September 2014) but varies widely according to an individual's skill, city and region. Individual driving schools set their own prices. The total includes fees for: authorities and exams, learning materials, driving lessons and tuition.
The Driving licence card is valid for 15 years, and is replaced with a new card when it expires. Before 19 January 2013, the driving licence card was valid without time limit. There is a decision that cards issued before that date expire on 19 January 2033. Although the driving licence is an official document issued by authorities, it has very limited validity as an identity card.
Gallery of historic images
- European driving licence
- Vehicle registration plates of Germany
- German identity card
- German passport
- Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur, http://www.bmvi.de/SharedDocs/DE/Artikel/LA/voraussetzungen-fuer-die-fahrerlaubnis-und-geltungsdauer.html
- "Führerschein: Fast jeder Dritte fällt durch die praktische oder theoretische Fahrprüfung".
- "Führerschein-Kosten im Vergleich: Berlin ist besonders günstig".
- Führerschein als Ersatz für Personalausweis? (German)