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Illegal racing as a criminal offense: first cars confiscated - The Berlin police also want to move in rental cars

Berlin - Illegal street races were at the center of a tightening of criminal law that the Federal Council decided in September. Anyone who takes part in them is now committing a crime. The new laws have recently come into effect: the perpetrators can Sentenced to prison and confiscated the cars become. Even if there is no accident. The same penalties are threatened if someone races on his own "grossly illegal and inconsiderate".

The Berlin police now want to exploit the new legal situation and thus provide a deterrent. In the past week there were several such races in Berlin. Two participants had an accident in one rented Mercedes CLA 180 and a stolen BMW 118d. On the Kurfürstendamm the police finished a race between one Audi RS5 and a Lamborghini and pulled in both cars. The following night the police in Schöneberg seized a Jaguar F-Type and a Mercedes-AMG. A road race was also held with both cars.

Cars remain "state property"

The Berlin police want to set precedents and crack down on the young drivers. "The drivers were probably quite surprised when their cars were suddenly gone," the Berlin daily newspaper "Der Tagesspiegel" quotes a police officer. The cars do not return: A judge had confirmed the seizure of the four sports cars, the police announced yesterday in Berlin.

The cars will "remain in state property for the common good with the aim of confiscation," as a police spokesman is quoted as saying. They are expected to be auctioned later. Expensive fun for the owners of the expensive vehicles.

The fact that this is possible in Germany is due to the aforementioned amendment in the Criminal Code, which only came into force in October. It has it all: In addition to the car, the affected drivers are also rid of their driver's license. It is assumed that participants in illegal races are “generally unsuitable for driving motor vehicles”.

What happens when you rest in the rental car?

There are still no precedents for the new rules, and courts will have a lot to do with them. The Berlin police are currently trying to create facts about how the new law could be applied. A controversial point: what happens if the car does not belong to the driver?

That is the case in Berlin. Two Mercedes that the police confiscated belong to the Fleet from Daimler's car sharing subsidiary Car2Go. Another confiscated car, an Audi with more than 600 hp, is a rental car. The police also want to confiscate these cars. The Audi is considered a criminal offense, the police told the “Tagesspiegel”.

The mostly younger drivers, the speeder in the Audi was 24 years old, then have another serious problem. Because they are liable to the rental companies whose cars may be collected. The car rental company would then have to appeal as the owner of the vehicle, explains the Berlin traffic lawyer Gregor Samimi when asked by MOTOR-TALK.

Holders must file a complaint

The question is whether the seizure is permissible and proportionate. The magistrate must decide this on a case-by-case basis. "Between the confiscation of the vehicle and the main hearing in the criminal case against the driver can be 4-6 months," explains the traffic attorney.

Even if car rental companies get their vehicle back at some point - they will suffer considerable damage if a complaint does not order that the car be returned earlier. Can the police get away with confiscating property from car rental companies and car sharing companies in court?

The Berlin authorities want it to depend on it. Gregor Samimi believes that in such a case the courts tend to decide in favor of the owner: "Especially if the race has remained without consequences, the proportionality is in question," believes the lawyer.

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