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27 Jan 2020, 13:46
Benjamin Wehrmann

Thousands of diesel driving ban infractions in German cities

dpa / Donaukurier

Authorities in four German cities with active driving bans for diesel cars have registered over 15,000 infractions of the rule introduced to improve air quality in inner cities by banning vehicles that do not meet emissions standards, news agency dpa reports in an article carried by newspaper Donaukurier. About 1.6 million euros in fines have been imposed during controls in Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Darmstadt, though it is still unclear whether the fines will be legally binding, the article says. Most drivers were caught in Stuttgart and Darmstadt, as authorities there generally check for a vehicle's roadworthiness when other traffic rule violations are committed, such as speeding or illegal parking. Fines vary from city to city, with authorities in Stuttgart and Darmstadt setting the highest penalty at 80 euros, whereas unlawful drivers in Berlin only pay 20 euros.

Several German cities introduced partial driving bans after a successful lawsuit by NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) that aimed to enforce EU car emission regulations to reduce vehicle exhaust pollution. Rule enforcement varies considerably between cities and many drivers are able to obtain exception permits, such as for business vehicles. Coverage spans from only a few roads, as is the case in Hamburg, to the entire inner city, such as in Stuttgart. The government used to promote diesel cars on climate protection grounds due to their lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions compared to petrol-powered cars, but the dieselgate emissions fraud scandal revealed that most companies cheated regarding their cars' emissions of both CO2 and the locally polluting nitrogen oxide (NOx).

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